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H&H Bagel King Accused of Tax Evasion

By Nicole Bode | November 18, 2009 1:35pm | Updated on November 18, 2009 1:48pm
An H&H bagel and coffee.
An H&H bagel and coffee.
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By Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Associate Editor

MANHATTAN — The owner of famed H&H bagels has been indicted for withholding more than $369,000 in taxes from the government over the past six years, prosecutors said.

Helmer Toro, 59, of the Upper West Side, was arrested Wednesday on charges he took out the required taxes from his employees’ paychecks between 2003 – 2009, but never turned the money over to the government, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

He was expected to be arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court on charges of grand larceny, violating labor law and other charges, prosecutors said. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Toro, whose bagel empire includes a storefront at Broadway near 80th Street and a factory at 46th Street and the West Side Highway, also allegedly cheated the state’s unemployment tax system by shifting employers from one shop to another while pretending they had been fired, the DA’s office said.

H&H Bagel store on Broadway and 80th Street
H&H Bagel store on Broadway and 80th Street
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Flickr/Scott Beale

“This case is a wake up call to all employers who fail to fulfill their fiduciary obligation to pay over taxes withheld from their employee’s salaries. It also demonstrates how tax evasion hurts our workers when an employer deliberately fails to contribute the appropriate amount into the unemployment insurance trust fund,” DA Robert Morgenthau said in a statement.

This is the first time prosecutors have charged a defendant under the unemployment tax act since it went into effect Jan. 1, 2006, prosecutors said.

Since then, the State’s Labor Department found 354 employers who failed to report transfers of employees properly, withholding an estimated $20 million in taxes, the DA’s office said.