By Tim Kelly
Manco and Manco’s is back…and the boardwalk was packed.
Bouncing back from yesterday’s sentencing of owners Chuck and Mary Bangle on charges related to income tax evasion, the iconic Boardwalk pizza franchise was churning with activity on Saturday.
The pie men twirled the handmade dough, delivery men were literally running into the store to keep up with demand, and the counter and tables were filled to capacity. What’s more, during the lunch rush, a line stretched all the way across the boardwalk.
The scene was in stark contrast from last night, when the 12th Street store, normally open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on winter Fridays, was dark and shut tight, despite a handwritten sign stating it would re-open at 5 p.m.
The store had closed for the sentencing hearing in federal court in Camden. More than 100 friends and relatives were on hand for the proceeding. Chuck Bangle, 57, was sentenced to 15 months in a yet-to-be disclosed prison. In 2015 he entered guilty pleas to two counts of an indictment: evading taxes on his 2010 personal income tax return and “structuring financial transactions in 2011 to avoid reporting requirements,” according to the indictment. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, ordered to pay $248,560 in restitution, and fined $5,000.
Mary Bangle, 56, who in 2015 had entered a guilty plea to a count in the same indictment charging her with knowingly making false statements to an Internal Revenue agent, was given three years’ probation and a $3,000 fine. The sentences were handed down to the Bangles, who both reside in Somers Point, by U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler.
Bangle will not begin serving his sentence until September, but customer reactions and emotions were as fresh as Manco and Manco pizza sauce yesterday.
“Give them a break! Are you 100 percent honest on your income tax return?” asked a man who refused to give his name. “These people have been through hell the past few years.”
“I don’t care,” another anonymous customer said. “Trump doesn’t pay his taxes, so what do you expect? It’s still great pizza! They (the Bangles) do their job and they do it well.”
A third anonymous customer, a woman, stated “It’s pretty good but we are here because Prep’s (Pizza and Dairy Bar) is closed. I didn’t know about (the sentencing).”
Mimi Milazzo, who dined with husband Bob, was the most vocal of the dissenting voices.
“I used to run a pizza shop in Egg Harbor City,” she said, referring to the former Joann’s Pizza. “I knew what the rules were and I paid my taxes in full. Nothing gives them the right to avoid paying their fair share. It’s just greed. (Chuck Bangle) is greedy.”
Joan O’Donnell, a resident of Long Island, New York, returned to the 12th Street store with her husband for dinner after being discouraged earlier by the long line.
“We are just happy they are open and we’re able to get (something to eat). The line was out to there,” she said, pointing to the restrooms across the boardwalk.
“Let’s go,” her husband said, holding the iconic white and purple Manco and Manco box. “Our pizza is getting cold.”