Pizza restaurateur's recipe for back-taxes : rob banks

LISBON (Reuters) - Saddled with back-taxes and other debts, an Italian restaurateur in Portugal left the pizzas aside, took a plastic replica pistol and held up a dozen banks to pay the tax man, court officials and local media said on Wednesday.

The Sicily-born 36-year-old who owned two struggling pizza joints has confessed to the robberies which netted some 100,000 euros ($113,000), a court official said. He goes to court this week along with another Italian man, 55, accused of being his accomplice.

The pair, who did not resort to actual violence and avoided speaking during holdups to conceal their accents, gesticulating instead, were caught after robbing a bank in the town of Viseu last September.

Police say they found the stolen cash, gloves and fake guns in the restaurateur’s car.

The official at the court in Matosinhos, near Porto, would not comment on the man’s tax affairs, but Jornal de Noticias newspaper quoted a lawyer for the accused as saying that “the defense has joined to the case many receipts for payments made around the time of the robberies”.

It said the crimes allowed the man to settle a large part of tens of thousands of euros of unpaid taxes and other debts such as motorway fees and his children’s school fees.

Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Robin Pomeroy