Soupman of 'Seinfeld' Soup Nazi fame files for bankruptcy protection

Soupman, the New York City food company made famous by the popular Seinfeld TV sitcom, has sought bankruptcy court protection, weeks after its chief financial officer was indicted on federal tax evasion charges.

Based on Staten Island, the company licenses the name and recipes of Al Yeganeh, the model for the gruff "Soup Nazi" character in the popular 1989-1998 series that starred comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The character focused fanatically on his culinary creations and refused to serve some would-be customers, barking what became a much-repeated catchphrase: "No soup for you!"

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition filed Tuesday in Delaware stated that Soupman had estimated assets between just over $1 million and $10 million, and estimated debts ranging from just over $10 million to $50 million.

The company said in a news release that it has secured a new $2 million debtor-in-possession credit facility from an independent private investment firm to fund working capital needs "and allow business operations to continue as usual."

However, the business was jolted in late May when federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced an indictment that accused Soupman CFO Robert Bertrand of failure to pay Medicare, Social Security, and federal income taxes.

His job included collecting, accounting for and paying the taxes for Soupman's employees. However, the indictment alleged that between 2010 and 2014 Bertrand instead paid Soupman employees with unreported cash, and compensated certain workers with unreported stock awards.

As a result, the federal government lost $593,971 in total tax payments that should have been paid by the company, prosecutors charged.

Bertrand, who has pleaded not guilty, was released on $50,000 bond, pending a scheduled July 18 legal hearing, court records show.

"The combination of legacy liabilities and recent company developments have made it necessary to seek bankruptcy protection," Soupman CEO Jamie Karson said in a statement announcing the court filing. "This will ensure that our delicious soups remain on grocery shelves throughout the country, which is in the best interests of all our stakeholders and customers."

 

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kevin McCoy on Twitter: @kmccoynyc

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