H&H bagel bigwig in 'hole' lotta tax trouble
The founder of the famed H&H Bagels franchise burned the state by withholding more than $40,000 in taxes, law enforcement officials said yesterday.
Helmer Toro, the 59-year-old owner of the Manhattan-based bagel empire, yesterday pleaded not guilty to grand larceny and other charges, said Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
The bagel bigwig allegedly stole nearly $370,000 in unemployment taxes — dough he had skimmed from about 100 employees’ paychecks, prosecutors said. He allegedly also pocketed $33,000 by manipulating the tax rate structure.
The 37-year-old H&H has been featured in TV’s “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and “Sex and the City” and the 1998 movie “You’ve Got Mail.”
As one of the world’s largest bagel manufacturers, H&H also is mentioned in countless food guides and on best-of lists.
Toro – born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx – surrendered his passport and was released on his own recognizance, according to the District Attorney’s office. Bail arrangements are expected to be formalized next month.
Toro is accused of filing taxes using six other company names, including West Side Storage Inc., all with H&H’s West 46th Street flagship address, said DA spokeswoman Alicia Maxey Greene. The practice allowed him to maintain a lower unemployment insurance tax rate.
If convicted, Toro may bake in prison for up to 15 years and pay more than $1 million in penalties.
H&H’s Upper West Side location was still open for business yesterday. An employee there refused comment. Toro and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.