TAMPA, Fla. – Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested Matthew McDermott, 51, of Davenport today on a grand theft charge stemming from a virtual currency operation. Virtual currency types include Bitcoin and Litecoin.
McDermott is also facing a charge of official misconduct. He is the Information Technology manager for the Florida Department of Citrus, which is charged with regulation of the state’s citrus industry. It is based in Bartow.
The investigation was launched after FDLE agents received a complaint from the Citrus agency’s Office of Inspector General. The complaint followed an audit of P-Card (purchasing card) activity that found McDermott had made more than $22,000 in purchases between July 2017 and December 2017. Among those purchases were 24 computer graphics cards known as Graphic Processing Units (GPUs).
In addition, the IG noted that utility bills for the agency had increased by 41% between October 2017 and January 2017. The increase amounted to nearly $825.00.
FDLE agents learned that McDermott was accessing a virtual currency exchange from multiple computers at the Department of Citrus and was part of a mining pool. A mining pool, or team, is used to solve mathematical equations in an effort to mine the virtual currency and win a reward. The pool combines its resources to help offset costs.
“Through the diligence of the executive management team at the Florida Department of Citrus, our agency was able to minimize losses to the state,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen. “Thanks to the Citrus agency’s quick and appropriate action, we were able to investigate and arrest Matthew McDermott.”
Shannon Shepp, Executive Director of the Department of Citrus, said: “We are grateful for the swift and professional actions of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This is a breach of ethics that is far outside the character of the Florida Department of Citrus and the industry we serve. Fortunately, our agency has internal controls that detected suspicious activity, and our Inspector General immediately notified the proper channels. We will continue to work with FDLE and the court system through this process.”
The Inspector General’s Office of the Florida Department of Citrus assisted with this investigation. McDermott will be booked into the Polk County Jail on a $5,000 bond. The State Attorney’s Office, 10th Judicial Circuit, will prosecute.