Renowned local restaurateur Neil Stein pleaded guilty this week to tax evasion after skimming $300 a day from his fine-dining establishments, according to court documents. The 63-year-old Stein, whose ownership of such restaurant hotspots as Striped Bass, Rouge, and Bleu made him a local celebrity, faces about a year behind bars, according to an Associated Press report.
A guilty verdict in a jury trial could have landed Stein in prison for up to nine years.
Stein's accountant, Andrew Goldner, also pleaded guilty to conspiring with Stein to hide income from the IRS.
The government zeroed in on Stein's 2001 personal tax return, which reported income of $104,000. According to prosecutors, "Stein actually pocketed far more than $104,000 annually from his restaurants."
He ordered subordinates to funnel $200 a day to him, then upped the amount to $300, according to the plea deal.
Stein used the money to fund lavish trips and personal expenses, the government said.