'Soup Nazi' company's former CFO pleads guilty to tax evasion

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2017 6:45 PM

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former chief financial officer of a company that licensed the name and recipes of the chef who inspired the tyrannical “Soup Nazi” character on the TV comedy “Seinfeld” pleaded guilty on Monday to tax evasion, according to court records.

Robert Bertrand, 63, pleaded guilty to one count of failing to pay taxes before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn federal court. Michael Weil, a lawyer for Bertrand, declined to comment on the plea.

Bertrand, who was CFO of Soupman Inc, was charged by federal prosecutors in May with depriving the U.S. Internal Revenue Service of roughly $594,000 of taxes by failing to report $2.85 million of cash and stock that a subsidiary of Soupman quietly awarded employees from 2010 to 2014.

Soupman, which was not charged, said at the time it was suspending Bertrand. The company could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

As part of his plea, Bertrand agreed to pay about $78,500 in restitution, representing the amount he personally benefited, according to John Marzulli, a spokesman for the office of Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde in Brooklyn.

Based in the New York City borough of Staten Island, Soupman sells products under the Original SoupMan brand.

It traces its roots to 1984, when Al Yeganeh opened his soup shop on West 55th Street in midtown Manhattan and soon began drawing long lines of customers.

Yeganeh was the inspiration for Yev Kassem, a character portrayed by Larry Thomas on a 1995 “Seinfeld” episode who was known for making customers follow strict ordering rules, or risk being shunted away with his forceful bellow: “No soup for you!”

In published interviews, Yeganeh has said he was not a fan of the “Soup Nazi” name.

Soupman filed for bankruptcy protection in June and emerged in September after its assets were acquired by Gallant Brands Inc.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)