The owner of several IHOP restaurants recently charged with multiple counts relating to fraud was ordered held in custody today pending trial after a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Toledo.
Tarek Elkafrawi, 54, was indicted May 23 on charges of money laundering, alien harboring, mail fraud, health-care fraud, use of fire or explosive to commit a felony, arson, aggravated identity theft, and identity theft.
Magistrate Judge Vernelis Armstrong ordered him detained today after hearing testimony from an FBI agent, a family friend, and Mr. Elkafrawi’s wife, co-defendant Kelly Elkafrawi.
Judge Armstrong said that while it was “compelling” that Mr. Elkafrawi did not leave the country between the time of the September raids on his area restaurants and his arrest last week, she was concerned by the number of charges he faced, the nature of the charges – including multiple identity theft charges – and the fact that there was minimal information available about the house offered as collateral.
Dressed in a brown Lucas County jail jumpsuit, Mr. Elkafrawi appeared to fight back tears as he was led from the courtroom in shackles.
Attorney Stephen Hartman, who is representing Mr. Elkafrawi, said he intends to appeal the decision.
Mr. Elkafrawi was one of 18 people accused in a wide scheme in which he allegedly employed more than 200 illegal immigrants to work in the restaurants and that he and others forged work papers for them. Managers reportedly were told to accept blatantly false documents and, if no documents were available, they were fabricated or another person’s identity, often someone already in the system, was used.
Sometimes employees were given multiple identities so they could report lower earnings to qualify for welfare or other government assistance, the indictment states.