Louisiana Attorney General Probes Own IT Dept Over Bitcoin Mining Allegations

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The Louisiana Attorney General, Jeff Landry, has opened a criminal investigation into his own office's information technology division, including its newly ousted manager, over allegations that former workers used state funds to mine bitcoin.

While half a dozen IT workers were fired in September, Landry has until now refused to admit the inquiry.

The state bureau of investigation contested workers after investigators found mining hardware, according to sources. No charges have yet been filed, according to The Advocate.

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 workers told The Advocate that state researchers found those emails. For former IT manager allegedly told investigators he had no understanding of such a «bomb.»

The FBI chose not to comment on the probe.

Fired Workers 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 found in mid-September.

Landry declined to comment on the investigation.

The attorney general's office in December released personnel records that demonstrated five IT division employees were fired in September. The documents, 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 successful, the records indicated.

At least two of those fired are privately involved in bitcoin mining. One fired, workers said they couldn't have used agency computers to mine cryptocurrency since the machines lacked the capability, and that such activity would have been discovered easily because of the high quantity of electricity required.