Nifty Fifty's Co-Owners Sentenced to Prison

Robert Mattei and Leo McGlynn get sentenced for their role in an elaborate tax evasion scheme.

This story was originally published in November, 2013.

The co-owners of a Philadelphia-area restaurant chain will serve time behind bars for their role in a multimillion-dollar tax evasion scheme.

On Tuesday a federal judge sentenced 53-year-old Leo McGlynn of Swarthmore to 36 months in prison. He, along with 75-year-old Robert Mattei, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, tax evasion, and bank fraud. Mattei was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Monday.

Authorities say McGlynn, Mattei and three co-defendants who ran the Nifty Fifty's eateries engaged in a long-running scam to avoid paying taxes.

Investigators say the Nifty Fifty's owners and employees had a scheme going to keep and hide money when customers paid cash for their meals. According to the indictment, they stashed the cash in personal safes in their own homes and in bank safe deposit boxes.

The five conspirators paid themselves in cash as well as most of the other restaurant employees, which allowed them to avoid paying more than $850,000 in employment taxes from 2006 to 2010, according to the indictment. During that same time period, they also used the cash to pay suppliers, which allowed those other businesses and people to evade paying taxes.

The defendants hired an accountant to prepare false federal tax returns for the restaurants, as well as false individual tax returns, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors say the five conspirators failed to account for more than $15 million in receipts between 2006 and 2010, thus evading $2.2 million in federal employment and personal taxes.

Aside from McGlynn and Mattei, the three others, Brian Welsh, Joseph Donnelly and Elena Ruiz, also pleaded guilty. Donnelly will be sentenced on Wednesday while Ruiz and Welsh will be sentenced on Thursday.

The chain of 1950s-themed burger joints has locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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