NYS Tax Dept. Supervisor accused of illegally collecting unemployment while on the job

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the arrest of a state employee for unemployment insurance theft and tax secrecy violations.

The A.G. says Johnny Neal, of Troy, N.Y., stole more than $17,000 in unemployment insurance benefits while working for the State Department of Taxation and Finance. He’s also accused of illegally accessing secret taxpayer information to benefit friends and family. He was arrested for filing false documents with the state on Wednesday.

“Unemployment insurance benefits have been a crucial resource in a difficult time for many New Yorkers,” said Attorney General James. “By fraudulently collecting these benefits, Johnny Neal both cheated taxpayers and stole from those who rely on unemployment payments. My office will ensure that anyone who commits fraud or violates the public’s trust will be held accountable to the full extent of the law.”

Attorney General James alleges that on September 20, 2020, Neal filed for unemployment insurance benefits with DOL and falsely claimed that he was not working and his office was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, as a DTF employee, Neal continued to collect his taxpayer-funded salary throughout the pandemic.

Neal also allegedly abused his position by improperly accessing confidential taxpayer information for family, friends, and others in efforts to aid them with their tax preparation. Taxpayer information is confidential and can only be accessed for legitimate purposes consistent with the responsibilities of New York state to levy and collect taxes.

Neal was charged with a felony and a misdemeanor.