A former Cohasset town employee accused of stealing electricity from a local school to operate a cryptocurrency mine appeared in Quincy District Court Friday, a day after he missed an initial arraignment date prompting the issue of a warrant for his arrest, according to the Norfolk district attorney.
Nadeam Nahas, 39, arrived at the courthouse with his lawyer Friday morning, according to David Traub, spokesperson for the Norfolk district attorney’s office. The arrest warrant was canceled and Nahas pleaded not guilty to a pair of misdemeanor charges in connection to the alleged crypto mining operation, Traub said.
Authorities allege that Nahas ran the mine from a crawl space at Cohasset Middle-High School from April to December 2021, according to the police report. He was arraigned Friday on charges of vandalizing a school and fraudulent use of electricity that cost the school about $17,500, according to court records and a police report.
Nahas was ordered to stay away from all public buildings in Cohassett, Traub said. He is due back in court on May 17 for a pretrial conference.
Nahas’s lawyer, Michael McCarthy, said his client denies the allegations but declined further comment in an e-mail after Friday’s arraignment.
Police were alerted to the alleged crypto operation in December 2021 after the town’s facilities director noticed electrical wires, temporary duct work, and numerous computers that seemed out of place in an “elevated crawl space” near the school’s boiler room, the report stated.
Police were then called to the school and were shown to the crawl space by the facilities director and Nahas, who was the assistant facilities director.
Nahas, who denied knowing why the equipment was there, and the facilities director told investigators they had shut the computers off because so much heat was coming from the space, according to a police report.
Authorities initially recovered six computers in the crawl space, including some that were inside “coolers” that vented to the outdoors, the report said. Another five computers were later discovered about 60 yards farther into the crawl space, the report said.
Nahas, who previously worked as an HVAC coordinator for Plymouth Public Schools, was identified as a suspect after a three-month investigation, according to the police report.
Authorities say Nahas was active on social media and made several references to crypto on Twitter. When he was interviewed by police last March, Nahas denied having a Twitter account but later recanted, according to the police report. He also denied having a crypto wallet.
Investigators also uncovered receipts from five purchases over April and May 2021 from Home Depot, where a debit card in Nahas’s name was used to purchase “coleman 48qt coolers, insulated flex ducts, extreme weather foil, insulation sleeves, and a water-based sealant tub, all items located in the crawl space and used to facilitate the mining operation,” the report said.
Nahas, who began working for the town in January 2021, resigned from his position in early 2022, police said.
Crypto mining uses computers to create digital currency and is known for consuming substantial amounts of electricity.
Investigators said the mining equipment was in use from April 28 to Dec. 14, 2021, and cost $17,492.57 in electricity, according to a police report.
Nick Stoico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.