The former CFO of Soupman has been sentenced to nine months in prison for cheating the federal government out of nearly $600,000 taxes on compensation paid to employees of the gourmet soup company that licenses the recipes of the real-life “Soup Nazi.”
Robert Bertrand, 63, admitted at his sentencing on Thursday that he erred in making unreported payments of cash and stock to employees and failing to pay Medicare, Social Security and federal income taxes on the side payments or the stock awards.
According to prosecutors, Soupman’s total approximate unreported compensation from 2010 through 2014 was more than $2.85 million, and the total approximate tax loss to the federal treasury was more than $593,000.
“I did make a mistake and I am remorseful for it,” Bertrand, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion in December, told a Brooklyn federal judge.
Bertrand’s lawyer, Michael Weil, insisted his client was not motivated by greed. “He did it to keep the company afloat,” and to pay his employees, he said.
But U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen, who also ordered Bertrand to pay more than $78,000 in restitution, said he engaged in a “deliberate, sustained and thought-out campaign to defraud the government of tax revenue.”
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 24 to 33 months in prison.
Soupman, which is based on Staten Island, licensed its name and recipes from Al Yeganeh, the Manhattan restaurant owner who inspired the “Soup Nazi” character on “Seinfeld.” It filed bankruptcy in June 2017 with about $11.8 billion in debt.
Bertrand began working for Soupman in 2004 but was suspended in May 2017 after he was indicted on 20 tax fraud charges.
“Bertrand has been held to account for abusing his position as the CFO of a publicly traded company in a long-running scheme that cheated the nation’s treasury out of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said in a news release.
“Today’s sentencing makes clear that this office, with our partners at the IRS, will pursue corporate gatekeepers like the defendant who fail to enforce their companies’ tax obligations,” he added.