Iconic Philly cheesesteak shop founder, son face tax charges

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The founder of an iconic Philadelphia cheesesteak restaurant and one of his sons have been indicted on federal tax evasion and fraud charges for allegedly hiding nearly $8 million in sales over the course of a decade.

A spokesperson for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. Attorney's office announced the charges Friday against 82-year-old Anthony Lucidonio Sr., and his son, 54-year-old Nicholas Lucidonio, two owners of the well-known cheesesteak and sandwich shop Tony Luke's. The indictment alleges the pair kept two sets of books to try to defraud the Internal Revenue Service as well as failed to record thousands of dollars in cash transactions.

The face of Tony Luke's, the bald and goatee-sporting Anthony Lucidonio Jr., known as Tony Luke Jr., was not named in the indictment. He split from his father and brother in 2015, followed by a public sometimes personal court battle over franchising agreements and recipe ownership.

Court documents did not yet show an attorney for the father and son indicted Friday.

Federal authorities charged the pair who live in New Jersey with conspiracy to defraud the IRS, four counts of tax evasion and aiding and 19 counts of assisting in the filing of false tax returns.

The indictment alleges the two hid the millions of dollars by depositing only some of Tony Luke's receipts into business accounts, not sharing all sales with their accountant and filing fraudulent tax returns for the business and individually. They are also accused of paying some employees a portion of their wages off the books to avoid employment taxes. The scheme started in 2006 and continued through the family split and into 2016, authorities said.

During that split, the pair revised the prior year's tax returns to show more sales, but also reported fraudulent expenses to offset them, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the two face up to five years in jail for each count of tax evasion and three years for each false return charge. Both also faces more than $6 million in fines.

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