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I'm assuming he had nothing of value when being released from prison (I guess all his possessions would be taken from him).

He stays at June's place, paying $700 a month [1]. I'm assuming that he, as everyone else, has other expenses in his life that must be covered.

In (3.4) Peter says to Neal:

That's why we pay you the big bucks....if we paid you...

Ok, so it's pretty clear that Neal can get a lot of money by selling items he has hidden away somewhere. (He could for instance have sold the ring hidden in the statute in Madison Square Park worth $2.5 million. (2.14)

My question is: How does Neal make money... Or rather, how does Peter and the FBI think Neal makes money? Obviously they can't rely on him selling stolen goods.

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The $700 is payed by the FBI. In the pilot Peter tries to put Neal in a motel, because there is nothing better for $700. Neal of course does find something better for that price and Peter accepts it because the rent is within the given limit. - I'm guessing the police/FBI didn't seize all of Neal's funds when he was arrested, unless they were able to prove that all of his money came from illegal activities. –  Oliver_C Aug 6 at 9:11

3 Answers 3

Ok so lets do this properly,

It Goes like this;

  • Neil's living expenses are paid by the FBI at the same amount it would cost to inprison him.

Do I have to stay here?
It cost $700 a month to house you on the inside, so that's what it costs here. Series 1 - Episode 1

  • As Chann3rz has stated, Neil has only been convicted of Bond forgery so all of his previous assets still exist although they don't make a big point of this, but there are many references to various jobs he has pulled.
  • A lot of his living expenses are covered by June, she seems to provide food, coffee and her wine cellar, at least in the first season.
  • In reality Confidential informants are usually paid by the FBI even when they are working off a sentence (although when working off a sentence they get considerably less) Just as in prison, prisoners are able to have jobs and earn money and much lower wages. Some CIs earn as much as 25% of the amount seized and considering the kind of work the white collar devision do that could account for a lot of money - although this is just speculation

Source

Not more than 25% of the money or appraised value of non-liquidated assets; however, the compensation shall not exceed $250,000.00 in any case. (19 USC Section 1619(a) and (b).)

Spoiler

- As of season 4 onwards Neil has a significant amount of money due to the Nazi treasure he stole which has not been mentioned of anything being seized by the FBI and considering that Mozzy controlled much of this money, so he could easily have used this to buy the "Finer things in life"

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After re-watching the first 7 episodes yesterday, There are a few mentions of his possible wealth and assets early on in the series:

There is a mention of Neil’s Assets Season 1 Episode 5 “The Portrait” where Neil is led there after receiving clues from Kate. During their telephone call she asks Neil where his money, art ect is but he won’t tell her.

Also, in season 1 episode 7 “Free fall” after he is framed for stealing a rare pink diamond he is sent back to prison, Mozzie then visits him claiming to be his lawyer. During their conversation Neil mentions that he needs to liquidate some assets to buy a bakery which is located 4 stories down from the chambers of the judge presiding over the case in order to make an escape and prove who the real thief is.

Neal: Wait. He's got a private office not connected to the federal building on Mott Street. Moz, I need you to liquidate some assets. I need money.

Mozzie: Why?

Neal: I want you to buy a bakery.

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Caffrey he was only ever convicted of Bond Forgery and all other crimes were alleged which could explain how he still has assets that were not seized by the FBI.

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I definitely agree that Neil probably has assets at his disposal. If this is cash, it would explain much, but would leave the question: Why live in a $700 motel? And if it's not cash but other assets, can the FBI rely on him selling these assets to pay for his living? Anyway +1, you have some good points :) Do you have any comments to my question? –  Robert P. Aug 11 at 17:23
    
@RobertP. I am Currently watching the reminder of the 1st season to hopefully find an answer to your question about how he would be able to live if the FBI only pay for his rent but can only notice that his food/drink would be provided by June. I wonder if they provide him with a little "pocket money" to keep him going? but I guess if he can only go 2 miles in any direction he wouldn't be able to do much in whatever spare time he has. –  Chann3rz Aug 11 at 18:17
    
While watching season 1 episode 11 “Home Invasion” last night I did happen to notice that while Peter’s house was without power he was looking for hotels to stay in, some of them were pretty pricey apart from the place that Neil was originally meant to be staying which was at the bottom of the pile. Cruz confirms that it is $59 a night which would mean that on the $700 monthly allowance the FBI gives him that he could only stay there for about 12 nights. Surely that would be a very hefty long stay discount so maybe the $700 might be his “pocket money” to live on? –  Chann3rz Aug 12 at 10:37

Neil gets a $700 monthly budget from the FBI.

When Neal is released from prison to work with the FBI, he is given a seedy motel room the FBI rented for him. Agent Burke explains that Neal's monthly budget is $700, hence the less than desirable living conditions.

http://whitecollar.wikia.com/wiki/Neal_Caffrey

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