Judge denies return of money in IHOP case


A federal judge Tuesday ordered the government to return some personal items belonging to the wife of a former IHOP franchise owner charged with an illegal employment and money laundering scheme, but denied her request for money seized from her home and bank account.

U.S. District Court Magistrate James Knepp II said jewelry and a camera are to be returned to Kelly Elkafrawi, but $3,500 cash seized at her home and $6,500 in a checking account should be withheld.

Mrs. Elkafrawi was one of 18 people arrested in May, 2012, and charged in an alleged scheme to employ illegal immigrants at seven restaurants owned by her husband, Tarek Elkafrawi. She is charged with money laundering and harboring illegal immigrants.

In seeking the funds’ return, Mrs. Elkafrawi said she is working two jobs to pay her bills.

“With the amount of money the Government has seized from the Elkafrawis, a mere $10,000 can be attributed to Kelly’s individual earnings,” her motion stated.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office countered that the money was “evidence supporting the charges of money laundering in the case.”