Executive at 'Soupman' Firm Is Charged With Tax Evasion -- update

By Corinne Ramey Features Dow Jones Newswires

The Taxman is coming for the 'Soupman's' company.

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Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Tuesday charging an executive at Soupman Inc., of "Seinfeld" fame, with tax evasion. The company, based in Staten Island, N.Y., licenses the recipes, likeness and name of Al Yeganeh, the man who inspired the "Soup Nazi" character in the television show.

The indictment, filed in Brooklyn, charges Robert Bertrand, the company's chief financial officer, with 20 counts of failing to pay federal income taxes, Medicare and Social Security for Soupman's employees. Prosecutors contend that from 2010 to 2014, Mr. Bertrand paid his employees on the side in cash and paid certain workers in large amounts of unreported stock.

Mr. Bertrand didn't report these payments to the Internal Revenue Service, despite being warned by an external auditor in 2012, prosecutors said. From 2010 to 2014, Soupman racked up nearly $3 million in unreported stock and cash compensation, and the total tax loss to the government was about $600,000, they said.

A lawyer representing Mr. Bertrand didn't respond to a request for comment. Mr. Bertrand pleaded not guilty in federal court and was released on bail.

If convicted, Mr. Bertrand, 62 years old, of Norwalk, Conn., faces up to five years in prison.

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Mr. Yeganeh, the man who inspired the "Soup Nazi" character, opened his Manhattan soup store in 1984, according to the website of Soupman Inc., which sells its products under the name the Original Soupman. Mr. Yeganeh's fame spread after a 1995 "Seinfeld" episode in which the irascible Soup Nazi berates customers who stand in long lines for his legendary soup, often yelling "No soup for you!"

The company didn't respond to a request for comment. The "Rules for Press" on the company website ban the "N" word -- Nazi -- and note that "only some of the questions emailed may be answered." A company Twitter bio disputes that Mr. Yeganeh owed his fame to anything but his culinary prowess.

"Long before a certain show said Al was famous, Al WAS famous," it says.

The Original Soupman has locations throughout the tri-state area and sells packaged soup at grocery stores.

Write to Corinne Ramey at Corinne.Ramey@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 23, 2017 18:25 ET (22:25 GMT)