Guilty duo stole $2M from California schools, built crypto mine

Two California school district officials have pleaded guilty to stealing up to $1.8 million and electricity to fund and run a secret crypto mine, remodel property, and purchase expensive cars.

According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), assistant superintendent Jeffrey Menge embezzled up to $1.5 million over four years from the Patterson Joint Unified School District in Sacramento, while IT director Eric Drabert stole up to $300,000. 

Menge and Drabert were accused of over-billing the school district through a company Menge controlled called CenCal Tech. Through establishing a fake executive named Frank Barnes, the pair were able to “conduct more than $1.2 million in fraudulent transactions” by “double billing, over billing, and billing for items not delivered by CenCal Tech to the school district.”

The pair also purchased high-end graphic cards and installed a crypto mine powered using the school district’s electricity.

Read more: Europol says alleged crypto miner made millions from stolen electricity

Menge bought various expensive vehicles, including a 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia, and paid to remodel and install a shop in his home. In addition, he gave himself a $37,700 discount to buy the school’s Chevy truck before selling it for a $27,000 profit. Dalbert used illicit funds to remodel his vacation cabin.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) raided their homes last year. According to a plea agreement, Menge was ordered to forfeit a Jeep Wrangler Hellcat, an Audi R8 Quattro, and the Ferrari, among other items. 

The two pleaded guilty in a Sacramento federal court yesterday. They will face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. They’re scheduled to be sentenced on May 30.

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