Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the arrest of a Suffolk County information technology supervisor for allegedly running an unauthorized cryptocurrency mining operation out of County offices, costing the County thousands of dollars in electricity over the past seven months.
“Mining cryptocurrency requires an enormous amount of resources, and miners have to navigate how to cover all of those electricity and cooling costs,” District Attorney 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.”
Christopher Naples, 42, of Mattituck, is charged with Public Corruption as a class C felony; Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony; Computer Trespass, a class E felony; and Official Misconduct, a class A misdemeanor. Naples, whose current title is Assistant Manager of Information Technology Operations for the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office, has been employed by Suffolk County since 2000.
An investigation by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s Public Integrity Bureau revealed evidence that since at least February 2021, Naples has allegedly been utilizing County electricity, internet access, and other resources to run a mining operation for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency out of the County Center, located at 300-310 Center Drive in Riverhead.
Pursuant to the investigation, investigators executed search warrants at the County Center on Aug. 19, which resulted 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,” District Attorney 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. 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.”
The investigation determined that at least 10 of the machines had been running since February 2021 at a total cost of more than $6,000 to the County, according to an audit of the building’s energy bills; however, the investigation into the operation and associated costs of the additional devices is ongoing. The devices are estimated to cost approximately $4,200 per month each in electricity based on the minimum kilowatts required for their operation and the average cost per kilowatt hour in Suffolk County.
The investigation is also ongoing into the amount and nature of any proceeds of Naples’ alleged cryptocurrency mining operation.
Naples was arraigned on the charges today in Southampton Town Justice Court before Justice Barbara Wilson and was released on his own recognizance. He is being represented by William Keahon and is due back in court on Sept. 16.
If convicted of the top count, Naples faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison.
This case is being prosecuted by Public Integrity Bureau Chief Marc Lindemann with assistance from Assistant District Attorneys Kevin Ward and Laura de Oliveira, of the Public Integrity Bureau, and Financial Investigations and Money Laundering Bureau Chief Jeremy Glicksman. The Suffolk County Comptroller’s Office and the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office also assisted in the investigation.
A criminal charge is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.