In a case that intertwines crypto mining and utility theft, a Minnesota power company, North Star Electric Cooperative, has accused a former couple, Ryan Jaenicke and Tina Fehlhaber, of stealing vast amounts of electricity. The alleged scheme, detailed in a 19-page civil suit filed in Roseau County Court, was purportedly to power a bitcoin farm in Roosevelt. This revelation follows North Star’s discovery last year of a significant loss of power in its distribution network.
Alleged Utility Theft for Bitcoin Mining Leads to Lawsuit Against Minnesota Couple
According to a report, North Star, a not-for-profit, member-owned power distribution cooperative, first noticed a substantial loss of electric power in June 2022, sparking an investigation. During a routine inspection in May 2023, employees uncovered non-North Star equipment connected to their lines in Roosevelt, leading to a property owned by Fehlhaber. Inside, they found two unauthorized 50 kilovolt-ampere transformers and over two dozen cryptocurrency mining units.
Jaenicke, known for his Youtube channel “Degenerate Passive Income,” is accused of being the mastermind behind this operation. In his videos, he often discussed cryptocurrency as a lucrative passive income source, even showing off his mining farms. However, it’s alleged that the Roosevelt farm operated on stolen electricity from North Star, resulting in losses potentially amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The lawsuit uploaded by theminermag.com and brought forth by North Star details the extensive nature of the alleged theft. It’s unclear if others were involved in what appears to be a well-orchestrated scheme. Additionally, attempts by Jaenicke to allegedly bribe a North Star employee for more power access were rejected. While the Roseau County Attorney’s Office initially declined to prosecute due to insufficient evidence, this decision could change if new evidence emerges.
North Star’s lawyer, Joel Fremstad, emphasized the severity of the theft, comparing the electricity consumption to that of a school or a commercial building. The cooperative has disconnected the unauthorized equipment and reported the case to law enforcement. They are seeking at least $50,000 in damage compensation and the disgorgement of all profits obtained through the alleged electricity theft.
“At the heart of it we see theft and greed,” the lawyer for North Star told the news publication inforum.com.
Jaenicke, owner of Northland Tire in Roseau, and Fehlhaber, have not been reachable for comments. Local reports note that the couple, who recently separated, could face significant financial repercussions if found liable. Under Minnesota law, they could be forced to pay double the amount of electricity stolen plus any profits from the crypto mining.
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