WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Salvatore Stellino, the 54-year-old owner of a once popular chain of South Florida pizza restaurants, Sal's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria Inc., pleaded guilty on Oct. 8 to skimming millions from his businesses and cheating the Internal Revenue Service out of about $1.3 million in taxes.

According to the Palm Beach Post, his co-defendant and former operations manager, Anthony Magnanti, 63, pleaded guilty to the same charge.

The men conspired to underreport more than $11.2 million in revenue made in the company's 15 restaurants between 1993 and 1997.

In the scheme, two sets of books were kept, and managers of each restaurant were told to underreport revenue daily.

According to testimony, on each Monday, Stellino's managers reported to him and Magnanti, bringing with them bags full of cash and actual receipts. Some of the cash would be returned to pay employees in cash, but most would go into Stellino's pocket, said U.S. Assistant District Attorney Bruce Reinhart.

Angry that Stellino gave them only $100 bonuses, disgruntled employees turned him in to the Florida Department of Revenue, which reported the scheme to the IRS.

Both Stellino and Magnanti face up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines.

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