Pocketing The Dough

By Devra Ferst

Published June 09, 2010, issue of June 18, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Wars over the best New York bagel have likely ensued since the first Jewish immigrants arrived in lower Manhattan. “Zabar’s!” some Jewish families shout about where to buy their Sunday brunch bagels. “Absolute Bagels!” No, “H & H Bagels!”

But the battle switched recently from crust quality to finances.

The owner of the self-proclaimed largest bagel producer in the world (though Lender’s and Dunkin’ Donuts likely beat the company by a long shot) has been lying on the books as well, to the tune of more than $330,000.

Helmer Toro, a co-founder and owner of iconic New York bagel bakery H & H Bagels, pleaded guilty May 27 to second-degree grand larceny for pocketing payroll taxes, mostly money he withheld from employees from 2003 to 2009 and never forked over to the state

The bagel shop, which is widely considered to make one of the quintessential New York bagels, has been mentioned in TV shows and on the big screen by everyone from Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) in “Seinfeld” to Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) in “Sex and the City.” The company, founded in 1972, ships its bagels overnight to anywhere in the country, and even to select locations abroad.

Toro, who took a plea bargain over a court date that could have resulted in 15 years in jail, will spend 50 weekends behind bars and will have to pay the state $500,000 in fines. He put up his company’s Manhattan bagel plant as collateral.

Manhattan’s district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., said, “Under no circumstances can employers gain in business by cheating their employees.”

Although H & H refused to disclose the number of bagels it produces, it has previously boasted the production of 80,000 bagels daily. And at the exorbitant price of $1.40 a pop (which would rake in $112,000 a day, by our calculation), it shouldn’t take Toro that long to earn some extra dough.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.