Helmer Toro, Owner of H & H Bagels, Pleads Guilty

District Attorney Cyrus R.Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of HELMER TORO to charges of Grand Larceny, Offering a False Instrument for Filing, and to a violation of Labor Law for unemployment insurance tax manipulation. TORO collected but failed to pay about more than $369,000 withheld from the payroll of the employees of his bagel business. This case is the first prosecution of unemployment insurance tax rate manipulation under the New York State Unemployment Tax Act, which became effective in January of 2006.

"Under no circumstances can employers gain in business by cheating their employees," said District Attorney Vance. "The City's businesses must adhere to ethical standards and contribute to the tax revenue of the City and State, as well as protect their employees' interests."

According to documents filed in court, TORO filed City and State withholding tax returns under six different company names. On several occasions, TORO made nominal payments to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, even though he knew he was obligated to turn over all withheld tax. Using shell companies, TORO manipulated his unemployment insurance tax rate by transferring a large segment of his workforce from one business to a new business. TORO did this to obtain a lower employment insurance tax rate.

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Acting Commissioner Jamie Woodward said: "This case demonstrates that those who try to manipulate the tax system to enrich themselves will face the consequences. The Department will continue to work with our law enforcement and state government partners to ensure that the law is enforced."

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Gardner said: "This case should send a strong message shared by hard-working New Yorkers, businesses who play by the rules and government--cheating workers for financial gain will not be tolerated. I applaud District Attorney Vance for ensuring that this bad employer gets his day in court."

District Attorney Vance thanked Acting Commissioner Jamie Woodward of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, and her staff in the Criminal Investigations Division and the High Volume Enforcement Unit, particularly Investigator George Bean and Auditor Mukailu Rabui, and Commissioner Colleen Gardner of the New York State Department of Labor and her Office of Special Investigations and Unemployment Insurance Fraud Unit.

Assistant District Attorneys Maurice Mathis and Gilda Mariani, Chief of the Money Laundering and Tax Crime Unit, handled the prosecution of this case. The District Attorney's Office (NYPD) Detective Squad assisted in the investigation, including Detective Robert Misretta, under the supervision of Captain Ronald Haas.

Defendant Information:
HELMER TORO, 10/22/50
155 West 70th
New York, NY


* Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony
* Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony
* Unemployment Insurance Tax Manipulation, a class E felony