The chief financial officer for a company licensing recipes from the real-life chef who inspired the "Soup Nazi" character on "Seinfeld" was arrested Tuesday on tax charges alleging he cheated the government out of a half-million dollars.
Robert N. Bertrand, 62, of Norwalk, Connecticut, pleaded not guilty before he was released on $50,000 bail after being charged in Brooklyn federal court with failing to pay Medicare, Social Security and federal income taxes on behalf of the employees of Staten Island-based Soupman Inc.
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The company licenses the name and recipes of Al Yeganeh, whose New York soup stand was the inspiration for the "Soup Nazi" character from the television series "Seinfeld."
The government said Bertrand paid Soupman employees unreported cash on the side and gave some workers large unreported stock awards from 2010 through 2014. The indictment says Soupman's unreported cash and stock compensation during those years was $2.8 million, and the total estimated tax loss to the Internal Revenue Service was $593,000.
Bertrand's lawyer declined to comment.
"The United States was fleeced out of more than half a million dollars through the defendant's corporate misdeeds," said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde. "Tax crimes like those alleged in the indictment hurt every American citizen.
James Robnett, agent-in-charge of New York's IRS criminal division, said employment tax evasion damages the solvency of the U.S. government and costs employees future Social Security and Medicare benefits.