FBI indicts 18 in IHOP raid caseWritten by Brian Bohnert | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced Wednesday the indictment of 18 people allegedly linked to a series of criminal schemes centered on seven Northwest Ohio and Indiana IHOP restaurants that resulted more than a $3 million loss.
The charges outlined in the indictment include money laundering, identity theft, alien harboring and arson.
The charges stem from a Sept. 20 raid of the seven IHOP locations in west Toledo, Springfield Township, Perrysburg, Sylvania Township, Lima, Findlay and Evansville, Ind.
“These defendants turned pancake houses into crime dens,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, in a news release. “This indictment lays out a menu of crimes ranging from harboring undocumented workers to identity theft to money laundering to insurance fraud.”
Carole Rendon, first assistant U.S. Attorney, said the franchise owner, Tarek “Terry” Elkafrawi, used his seven IHOP locations as fronts for money laundering. She said Elkafrawi and others stole money from corporate IHOP by underreporting net sales to decrease the amount of payments owed.
“The crimes that are laid out in the 64-count indictment result in losses in excess of three million dollars,” Rendon said.
The indictment states that Elkafrawi and 17 others allegedly used their control of the IHOP restaurants to “fraudulently manipulate sales figures, salaries and payrolls to evade taxes, avoid paying royalties and illegally divert money from the IHOP franchises to themselves.”
In underreporting sales figures, Elkafrawi and the others allegedly generated $1.2 million in unreported income, Rendon said.
Federal authorities also alleged that Elkafrawi directed employee Jose Leon-Gonzalez to burn down the Findlay IHOP in 2008. Elkafrawi then claimed $1.3 million through insurance and through “inflated payroll claims,” according to a new release.
In addition to those charges, Elkafrawi allegedly employed nearly 200 illegal immigrants to work in his seven IHOP locations, with most of them using stolen or fraudulent identities. Elkafrawi allegedly had Carlos, Gamboa, Leon-Gonzalez and other employees obtain false documentation for the workers.
Rendon said law enforcement officials will seize all seven IHOP locations, 12 bank accounts, a home and other property purchased by Elkafrawi and Autumn Lee Tangas, a co-conspirator in the alleged schemes.
Taking part in last year’s raid were members of the FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs. All searches took place at around 6 a.m. that morning.
The 1:30 p.m. press conference to announce the indictments took place at the U.S. Attorney’s Office at Four Seagate downtown.
The names of the 18 arrested:
- Tarek Elkafrawi
- Autumn Lee Tangas
- Tarek Eid Omar
- Khaled Yousef
- Jamil Mohammed Awwad
- Ramiz Awwad
- Carlos Gamboa
- Jose Leon-Gonzalez
- Donna Herriot
- Lucky Williams
- Mark Anthony Turner
- Sara Rinebolt
- Cesar Avilla
- Yoni Merida
- Ali Mahmoud
- Mohammed Hassan
- Kelly Elkafrawi
- Khalil Aboudakka