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Department of Citrus employee arrested when caught mining for cryptocurrency, agents say

TAMPA — A Department of Citrus employee was arrested after he used state computers to produce virtual currency for himself, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Matthew McDermott, 51, of Davenport was the information technology manager for the Florida Department of Citrus, the agency that oversees the state's citrus industry.

According to FDLE agents, he used several computers in the Department of Citrus to mine for virtual currency, which include bitcoin and litecoin.

"A mining pool, or team, is used to solve mathematical equations in an effort to mine the virtual currency and win a reward," the FDLE said. "The pool combines its resources to help offset costs."

Mining for cryptocurrency requires extensive computing power. Utility bills for the department jumped by more than 40 percent between October 2017 and January 2017, at a cost of about $825, according to the inspector general for the citrus agency.

McDermott also spent more than $22,000 using a state purchasing card between July and December, FDLE agents said. He bought 24 graphic processing units, the FDLE said. These are often used to mine for cryptocurrency.

He is charged with grand theft and official misconduct. He was taken to Polk County jail and his bail was set at $5,000.