Justice Dept says Tony Luke’s owners hid $8 million from IRS

The scene at Tony Luke's cheesesteak restaurant on September 6, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pa. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The scene at Tony Luke's cheesesteak restaurant on September 6, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pa. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Justice Department indicted the owners of an iconic Philadelphia cheesesteak business for tax evasion. The government says the father and son team that run Tony Luke’s in South Philly hid more than $8 millions from the IRS during a ten-year period.

In a press release Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Pennsylvania’s Eastern District laid out around two dozen charges against Anthony Lucidonio Sr., 82, and his son, Nicholas Lucidonio, 54. Those include conspiracy to defraud the government and numerous counts of falsifying tax returns, along with tax evasion.  

Prosecutors allege that between 2006 and 2016, the pair diverted cash coming into the restaurant, underreported sales, paid employees some of their earnings off the books, and filed false tax returns. 

“This alleged scheme victimized honest taxpayers in two ways: first, by hiding more than $8 million in revenue from the IRS and second, by avoiding payroll taxes,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain in the Justice Department release. 

Prosecutors also say that in 2015 the two men began to worry the activity would come to light, and tried to cover it up by modifying earlier tax returns.

“When the defendants thought their scheme might be discovered, they allegedly cooked the books even further to cover their tracks,” McSwain added.

Fox Rothschild LLP and Weir & Partners LLP, the attorneys representing the Lucidonios, issued the following statement to Action News:

“Anthony ‘Tony’ Lucidonio and Nicolas ‘Nicky’ Lucidonio — the owners and operators of The Original Tony Luke’s — dispute the criminal charges filed against them on July 24 and look forward to defending themselves in court. Tony and Nicky have fully cooperated with the government’s investigation since its outset.”

“The Original Tony Luke’s will continue to serve its faithful clientele and provide gainful employment to its employees and their families.”

If convicted, the two men could face years in prison, along with millions of dollars in fines.

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