The owners of the famous Philadelphia Cheesesteak restaurant Tony Luke’s were sentenced to prison for tax fraud on Thursday after concealing over $8 million over the course of a decade.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced the owners, 57-year-old Nicholas Lucidonio, and 84-year-old Anthony Lucidonio Sr. were each sentenced to 20 months in prison plus three years of supervised release.
The Lucidonios owned and operated Tony Lukes, which is a popular cheesesteak and sandwich shop in South Philadelphia.
Between 2006 and 2016, court documents show, the two men hid over $8 million in cash receipts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and only deposited a portion of the cash they received into restaurant business accounts.
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By only depositing a portion of the cash, the DOJ said, the company’s accountant was provided incomplete information, resulting in the accountant filing false tax returns.
The DOJ also said the Lucidonios were also convicted of employment tax fraud, which was committed when the two men paid employees “off the books” in cash.
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Most employees were paid a portion of their wages on the books to evade being caught, and the rest of the wages were paid in cash without things like federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare taxes being paid to the IRS.
The Lucidonios did not report the cash wages to their accountant, the DOJ said, causing the accountant to prepare false quarterly employment tax returns with the IRS.
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The issue became known in 2015, when the Lucidonios and another individual got into a dispute over Tony Luke’s franchising rights.
During the dispute, the Lucidonios became concerned their tax fraud scheme would be exposed, so they had the prior year’s tax returns be amended to show higher reported sales, the DOJ said.
Still, the two men continued hiding their payroll tax scheme, which resulted in a loss of $1,321,042 to the U.S.
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