Founder of Philly cheesesteak shop Tony Luke’s, son sentenced for tax fraud

Anthony Lucidonio Sr., 84, and his son Nicholas Lucidonio, 57, were charged with conspiracy to defraud the IRS.

The Original Tony Luke's in South Philly.

The Original Tony Luke's in South Philly. (Google Maps)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

The founder of the original Tony Luke’s and one of his sons were sentenced to nearly two years in prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud.

Anthony Lucidonio Sr., 84, and his son Nicholas Lucidonio, 57, were charged with conspiracy to defraud the IRS.

They will both serve 20 months after admitting they cheated on their payroll and personal income taxes for years, hiding more than $8 million in sales from 2006 to 2016.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Authorities say the Lucidonios also committed employment tax fraud by paying employees “off the books” in cash.

“For a decade, these successful restaurateurs boldly cooked the books, cheating the government and honest taxpayers alike,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “As this investigation and prosecution show, tax fraud is a crime with some pretty high stakes, with violators held fully accountable.”

A judge is still deciding if the two can serve their sentences at separate times, which they say would allow them to keep their flagship cheesesteak shop open along East Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia.

In addition to the terms of imprisonment, U.S. District Judge Gerald A. McHugh ordered both defendants to serve three years of supervised release.

Anthony Lucidonio Junior – known as Tony Luke Junior — separated from his dad and brother and began his own business. He runs Tony Luke’s franchises and a mail-order business. He wasn’t connected in any way to the federal tax charges, and makes it clear on his website — the restaurant on Oregon Avenue is not affiliated with their brand.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

In 2022, the South Philadelphia cheesesteak shop on Oregon Avenue changed its name to Tony & Nick’s amid the family legal fight.

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal