The Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged two senior staff members of the Patterson Joint Unified School District, claiming that the duo operated crypto mining rigs on the premises of the district’s ten schools.
The agency also alleges that the two utilized the resources of the school and ran up the cost of electricity to support their mining operations, as per the official statement published late Friday.
DoJ Cracks Down on Crypto Mining in School District
According to the statement from the DoJ, it charged Jeffrey Menge, assistant superintendent and chief business officer of Patterson Joint Unified School District, along with Eric Drabert, IT director for the school district, in the case.
The agency, which is also investigating leading crypto exchange Binance, also claims that the duo worked together to operate a crypto mining farm and also sent all the cryptocurrencies generated in the process into their own digital asset wallets.
Stealing in ‘Additional Ways’
The DoJ also claims that the duo stole from the school in “additional ways,” stating that they “misused vehicles owned by the school district, including buying a Chevy truck at below-market value and selling it for a profit” and using a Ford Transit van as a personal vehicle.
“They purchased high-end graphics cards and used those cards, together with other school district property and electricity, to operate a cryptocurrency “mining” farm at the school district,” added the agency.
Embezzlement of $1M to $1.5M
The DoJ claims in the announcement that Menge was responsible for embezzling close to $1 million to $1.5 million from the operations, while Drabert stole between $250,000 and $300,000 during the scheme.
“Menge used stolen funds to remodel his home, to purchase luxury cars, including a Ferrari sports car, and for other personal uses. Drabert used stolen funds to remodel his vacation cabin, among other uses,” noted the statement.
It is currently unclear as to how many schools were affected since the district includes 10 schools with around 6,200 students. Further, the type of digital assets mined also remained undisclosed by the DoJ.
DoJ Cracks Down on Crypto
The DoJ has been coming after scammers and fraudsters in the digital asset space at a fast pace, recently charging Australian citizen Sam Lee, Rodney Burton from Miami, and Brenda Chunga from Severna Park, Maryland, for their role in establishing HyperFund.
As earlier reported by TheCoinRise, the DoJ has expanded the size of its cryptocurrency crime unit by raising its staff of serving lawyers and merging the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team.