Penalizing Crypto Miners
Two high-ranking members of the Patterson Joint Unified School District have been charged by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) with allegedly coordinating a cryptocurrency mining operation. According to the charge, the duo orchestrated the mining operation on district property, which comprises ten schools.
The DoJ alleged that the perpetrators, Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey Menge and Chief Business Officer Eric Drabert, utilized school resources for mining purposes, causing a substantial increase in electricity costs. The unauthorized activities involved acquiring premium graphics cards, which they also used. In addition, the alleged culprits utilized the district’s resources and electrical power to enable cryptocurrency mining operations within the school’s premises.
Based on their actions, the two officials have breached part of the terms of their employment for financial gains.
Misappropriation Of Funds
Although the DoJ’s statement offered information about the crypto mining activity carried out by two senior staff members of the Patterson Joint Unified School District, several details about the operations and allegations remained unclear.
For instance, the statement did not provide an exact count of the districts involved in the mining operation. It only notes that the district comprises ten educational institutions serving an estimated 6,200 students.
In addition, the US regulator did not disclose the type of crypto assets mined during the operation. However, the most commonly mined cryptocurrencies are Dogecoin (DOGE), Bitcoin (BTC), Monero (XMR), and Ravencoin (RVN).
Furthermore, the DoJ alleged that Menge misappropriated nearly $1.5 million, while Drabert stole about $300,000. The law enforcement organization explained that these fund misappropriation claims were in addition to the cryptocurrency mining charges.
Crackdown On Crypto Miners
In response to the increasing environmental impact of crypto mining, the US energy regulator has increased its surveillance of crypto miners. On February 1, the Department of Energy (DoE) rolled out a policy as part of a larger effort to reduce energy waste nationwide.
According to the rule, crypto miners must now produce detailed statistics on their energy consumption for the next six months. This policy directly responds to the recent spike in Bitcoin’s price, which has significantly increased crypto mining activity.
Before the DoE policy, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced its plan to perform a comprehensive survey to examine the electricity usage of local crypto-mining operations. The study will begin next week and requires miners to provide exact statistics about their energy consumption.
Hence, these moves highlight the growing global concern about the environmental impact of cryptocurrency mining, with regulators worldwide stepping up measures to control and reduce excessive energy consumption. Meanwhile, the issue of high energy consumption by miners is not limited to the United States.
Recall that in December 2023. Indonesian police closed down ten Bitcoin mining facilities, accusing the coordinators of over $1 million in electricity theft.