Nifty Fifty’s Owner Heading to Federal Prison

Gotta pay your taxes, bro.

Monday was a bad day for Robert Mattei. The co-owner of the Nifty Fifty’s restaurants, known for their cheap hamburgers, thick milkshakes, and 1950s decor, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for his role in a tax evasion scheme that went on for more than 20 years, according to court records. Mattei had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and fraud in 2012.

Four other Nifty Fifty’s co-owners have also entered guilty pleas in the case and are scheduled to be sentenced in the coming days. They are Elena Ruiz of Drexel Hill, Leo McGlynn of Swarthmore, and Brian Welsh and Joseph Donnelly of Springfield, Delaware County. Mattei, who is 75, now lives in Florida. Ruiz is his daughter.

The owners skimmed more than $15 million in receipts between 1986 and 2010, and failed to pay $2 million in taxes. Between 2006 and 2010 alone, the defendants stashed away more than $4 million in skimmed funds in safe deposit boxes, according to court records.

Nifty Fifty’s continues to operate locations in Ridley Township, Northeast Philadelphia, Clementon and Turnersville. The Bensalem location was destroyed in a fire earlier this year.