Amsterdam man charged with CARES Act theft

NEW YORK (NEWS10) — New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Monday that Robert Decker, 66, of Amsterdam was arrested, arraigned, and indicted on 11 counts. The charges stem from his alleged theft of over $6,000 in unemployment benefits from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“It is appalling that someone chose to steal funds intended for those most in need,” said Attorney General James. “Robert Decker chose to double dip and pilfer the state’s coffers when Texture Spray Machine the state’s finances remained in dire straits.”

James says Decker filed for unemployment while employed at National Home Exteriors, a home contractor based in Greene County. Between at least August 16 and October 21, the Attorney General says Decker was simultaneously paid over $18,000 at work. The indictment describes Decker’s request to be paid in checks or cash so he could keep taking in as much as $800 a week in unemployment.

Although he worked virtually every day during those 10 weeks, he dutifully attested to not having worked, recertifying his false weekly claim 10 times. A statement from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) says Decker—whose aliases reportedly include Bob Dale and Bob Ricci—was indicted in early October on 17 counts in a million dollar contractor scam. He and two alleged accomplices allegedly defrauded dozens of upstate homeowners and businesses.

And in 2003, the OAG prohibited Decker from operating as a home improvement contractor after many homeowners complained. Without filing a performance bond with the OAG, they say he continued to work illegally.

The charges against Decker include:

  • Third-degree grand larceny
  • First-degree offering a false instrument for filing

If convicted of these felonies, he faces up to seven years in prison.

New York state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon and Acting New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen collaborated with the OAG on the case against Decker.

“There is never an excuse to knowingly commit fraud and steal from a system that was designed to help New Yorkers in a time of need,” said Reardon. “However, it’s even more despicable when you try to scam the unemployment system in the midst of a public health pandemic.”

“This person deliberately stole funds that were intended to help those who have been struggling to support themselves and their families due to the pandemic,” said Bruen. “We simply have no tolerance for this type of crime.”