The owners of the iconic Ocean City and Somers Point restaurants Manco & Manco Pizza were arrested Thursday morning by IRS agents on multiple charges of tax evasion and other offenses, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Charles "Chuck" Bangle, 54, of Somers Point, is facing a 30-count indictment including 23 charges of structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements.
He is additionally charged, along with his wife, Mary Bangle, with one count of conspiracy to evade income taxes, five counts of income tax evasion and one count of making false statements to the IRS.
They appeared in federal court in Camden on Thursday afternoon.
Charles Bangle's attorney, Vincent Sarubbi, of Archer & Greiner P.C. in Haddonfield, said in a statement Thursday that his client has cooperated with the government's investigation into the alleged violations of tax laws.
"For that reason, today's arrests came as a shock," he said. "Mr. and Mrs. Bangle intend to vigorously defend themselves in court against these charges. They look forward to presenting defenses at the appropriate judicial proceedings and to the opportunity to have their side of the story heard."
Both were released after posting $100,000 bail each on Thursday, following their first appearance in court. Mary Bangle did not have representation, so the arraignment has been set for a future date.
Standard procedures for posting bail include forfeiture of passports – they can still travel but only within the continental U.S. – and surrendering firearms.
Charles Bangle is required to surrender his 12 handguns, two rifles and two shotguns by Friday, according to Rebekah Carmichael, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Wes Kazmarck, president of the Boardwalk Merchants' Association, said he was shocked to hear of the allegations against two of his most active members.
"Chuck and Mary (Bangle) have been, I mean, outstanding contributors to this town, this community, my group. ... They're absolutely first-class people," he said. "I'd like to think there's a huge misunderstanding here."
Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce and wife of Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian, said the Bangles are pillars in the city's business community.
"(They) have always been very big supporters of Ocean City," she said. "We have no details on the investigation, we just wish them the best. It's just so sad."
Gillian said Manco & Manco is on the shortlist of landmark Ocean City businesses along with Johnson's Popcorn and Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard.
The Bangles were co-owners of Mack & Manco until they purchased a controlling interest in the restaurant in 2011, changing its name to Manco & Manco. The chain has three locations in Ocean City and one in Somers Point. According to Fishman's announcement, Charles Bangle handled the day-to-day operations of the business and Mary Bangle handled cash and payroll.
The indictment alleges that between 2007 and 2011 the Bangles skimmed large sums of cash from the business. Charles Bangle allegedly deposited amounts of that cash into the couple's personal bank account at TD Bank in amounts less than $10,000, the threshold that triggers a Currency Transaction Report from financial institutions to the U.S. Department of Treasury. The Bangles then used the money to pay for personal expenditures.
The couple allegedly concealed approximately $981,000 in income from the IRS; had they accurately reported their income to the agency, they would have owed an additional $336,273 in taxes, officials said.
The Bangles claimed the deposits into their personal account were from salary earned at the pizza business, according to the indictment.
Each of the indictment's 30 counts carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Business was steady Thursday afternoon at the chain's Somers Point location despite the arrests earlier in the day.
Galloway Township resident Donna Puhalski said she grabbed a pie because she happened to be in the area, but after learning of the allegations said she would not come back.
"I'm shocked and disappointed," she said. "I can't believe it, because I'm a hard worker. I'm disappointed. This is a family kind of place. We've been going here for years, since my kids were babies."
Northfield resident Bill Meade grabbed a slice Thursday afternoon while his son browsed the neighboring GameStop. Meade said he heard the news earlier in the day and was mostly unfazed, saying such scandal is almost expected.
"I'm not surprised, you know?" Meade said. "Still like the pizza, though."
Unlike Puhalski, Meade said he would return.
A spokesman for Sarubbi, Bill Shralow, said Mary Bangle will be seeking her own counsel.
The couple will be back in court April 14 for the arraignment.
Staff writers Cindy Nevitt and Anjalee Khemlani, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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