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Published: Saturday, 1/5/2013

Local IHOP ex-owner on house arrest until trial

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Tarek Elkafrawi, the former International House of Pancakes franchise owner indicted on 53 federal counts, is on house arrest after release from custody Friday.

Mr. Elkafrawi, 54, was taken into custody May 23 after being charged with multiple counts of money laundering, harboring illegal immigrants, mail fraud, health-care fraud, use of fire or explosive to commit a felony, arson, aggravated identity theft, and identity theft.

In a Dec. 27 order, U.S. District Court Judge David Katz granted his release pending trial.

On Friday, Mr. Elkafrawi, an Egypt-born U.S. citizen, vowed the court “never will have any problem” with his compliance.

At the hearing, Magistrate Judge James Knepp II outlined rules for Mr. Elkafrawi’s release, including a $400,000 property bond secured by two of Mr. Elkafrawi’s homes, one in Perrysburg and one in Washington. As part of the house-arrest terms, the judge ordered location monitoring; Mr. Elkafrawi’s wife and niece were named third-party custodians.

Mr. Elkafrawi was among 18 people arrested in May, accused in a scheme to employ more than 200 illegal immigrants in his restaurants. He and others are also accused of forging work papers for them. According to the indictment, some workers received multiple identities so they could report lower earnings and qualify for welfare or other govermental aid.

The scheme involved six IHOP restaurants in northwest Ohio and one in southwest Indiana.

Among the defendants is Mr. Elkafrawi’s wife, Kelly Elkafrawi, who faces counts of money laundering and harboring illegal immigrants.

No trial dates have been set for either defendant.

In December, two other defendants entered guilty pleas: Sara Rinebolt of Findlay to one count each of identity theft and of making false statements, and Lucky Williams, address unavailable, to one count each of alien harboring and identity theft. Sentencing dates have not been set.

After Mr. Elkafrawi’s hearing, lawyer Rick Kerger said he was pleased his client could be released pending trial.



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