A Suffolk County information technology supervisor has been arrested for allegedly mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from county offices, costing Suffolk thousands of dollars in electric bills, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini announced on Wednesday.
Christopher Naples, 42, of Mattituck, was charged with public corruption, third-degree grand larceny, computer trespass, and official misconduct. Naples has been employed by Suffolk County since 2000, and he is currently the assistant manager of information technology operations for the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office.
“Mining cryptocurrency requires an enormous amount of resources, and miners have to navigate how to cover all of those electricity and cooling costs,” Sini said. “This defendant found a way to do it; unfortunately, it was on the backs of taxpayers. We will not allow county employees, who are already on the public’s payroll, to steal taxpayer money or illegally use government resources for their own personal gain.”
The district attorney’s public integrity bureau investigation revealed that Naples has allegedly been using county electricity and internet access to run a mining operation for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies out of the County Center in Riverhead at least since February 2021.
Investigators executed search warrants at the County Center on Aug. 19, resulting in the seizure of 46 cryptocurrency mining devices. The devices were found hidden in six rooms throughout the building in various spaces, including underneath removable floorboards, on top of or inside server racks, and inside an unused electrical wall panel.
“One of these rooms housed critically important computer servers, secure data storage systems, and communications equipment for the entire county government, and when investigators entered the room, an alarm was going off that indicated the temperature was too high,” Sini said. “Within hours of the devices being shut down, the temperature in the room dropped 20 degrees.
“So not only was this operation being paid for with thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, but it also put the county’s infrastructure at risk,” Sini continued. “The defendant also had to bypass the county’s internet security protocols in order to get these devices online, which could have potentially jeopardized the security of the county’s network.”
Investigators also determined that at least 10 running machines cost the county more than $6,000, according to an audit of the building’s energy bills; however, the investigation into the associated costs of additional devices is ongoing. The devices are each estimated to cost $4,200 per month in electricity, the district attorney’s office said.
Naples was arraigned on Wednesday in Southampton Town Justice Court before Justice Barbara Wilson and was released. He is being represented by Attorney William Keahon and is due back in court on Sept. 16.
Naples faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.