The State Worker

Digital coin scheme sends two former state workers to jail

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While regulators debate the pros and cons of bitcoins, the rising real-world value of this digital currency inspires the question: What makes money, money?

Two state information technology employees who used work-related resources to acquire a digital currency were sentenced to 30 days in jail on Monday after they pleaded no contest to illegally accessing a computer network.

Jeffrey Rikala and Jonathan Turrentine were software systems specialists at the California Department of Technology when they used state-owned computers to run software that can unlock a digital currency called Monero.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against them in February 2017, accusing them of misusing state computers in late October 2016.

Bryce Brown, spokesman for the technology department, said neither Rikala nor Turrentine works for the department today. Rikala’s last day was in May 2017, and Turrentine’s was in November 2016.

Court documents do not say how the state discovered that Rikala and Turrentine were misusing state-owned computers. It's common for certain state departments to monitor how public employees use their work computers.

This was story was updated on Friday, April 6 to correct that Rikala and Turrentine pleaded no contest to illegally accessing a computer network.

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