Florida Citrus Department Employee Arrested For Mining Cryptocurrencies

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has arrested a government employee for allegedly using official computers to mine cryptocurrencies.

Matthew McDermott, 51, IT manager for Florida’s Department of Citrus (FDoC), was charged with grand theft and official misconduct after his arrest by agents with the FDLE. He allegedly used FDoC’s computer system to mine cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and litecoin. McDermott’s bail is set at $5,000 for the alleged crimes.

The FDLE said McDermott allegedly decided to use the computers “to solve mathematical equations in an effort to mine the virtual currency and win a reward.” Because the mining process uses so much energy, the FDoC saw utility bills jump more than 40 percent between October 2017 and January 2018, costing an estimated $825. Additionally, McDermott allegedly spent nearly $22,000 on a state credit card to buy 24 graphic processing units, which are commonly used for cryptocurrency mining.

“Through the diligence of the executive management team at the Florida Department of Citrus, our agency was able to minimize losses to the state,” FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen detailed during the arrest. “Thanks to the Citrus agency’s quick and appropriate action, we were able to investigate and arrest Matthew McDermott.”

McDermott is not the first employee to try to mine bitcoin on the job. Earlier this month, Louisiana’s attorney general Jeff Landry opened a criminal investigation into the IT department of his own office amid allegations that a group of former staffers used state resources to mine bitcoin.

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