The Louisiana Attorney General, Jeff Landry, has opened a criminal investigation into his own office’s information technology division, including its recently ousted director, over allegations that former employees used state resources to mine bitcoin.
While half a dozen IT employees were fired in September, Landry has until now refused to acknowledge the inquiry.
State And Federal Inquiries
The state bureau of investigation questioned employees after investigators found mining hardware, according to sources. No charges have yet been filed, according to The Advocate.
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One law enforcement official, speaking anonymously, said computer systems could have been compromised. The FBI has questioned the IT section’s former director, sources said.
The FBI reportedly investigated claims that IT staffers exchanged emails about a “logic bomb,” a code that sets off malicious computer activity following a certain period of time. Two former employees told The Advocate that state investigators found those emails. For former IT director reportedly told investigators he had no knowledge of such a “bomb.”
The FBI chose not to comment on the probe.
Fired Employees Claim Innocence
Three of the terminated employees, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Advocate their firings were due to a misunderstanding by the attorney general’s office and denied any wrongdoing.
One former employee said she was fired around the time the suspicious equipment was discovered in mid-September.
Landry declined to comment on the investigation.
Also read: Arkansas sheriff mines bitcoin in cyber-crime prevention initiative
Records Verified Firings
The attorney general’s office in December released personnel records that revealed five IT division employees were fired in September. The records, released in response to a public records request, included no mention of the bitcoin mining investigation.
The terminated employees included a systems administrator, a help desk manager, a human resources employee and a litigation support manager. The IT divisions director resigned on Sept. 1, but was fired less than two weeks after his resignation was effective, the records indicated.
At least two of those fired are privately involved in bitcoin mining. One fired employee said they could not have used agency computers to mine cryptocurrency since the machines lacked the capability, and that such activity would have been detected easily due to the high amount of electricity required.