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Published: Thursday, 9/5/2013

Trial delayed for IHOP operator; 3 plead guilty

Elkafrawi. Elkafrawi.

The trial of area International House of Pancakes franchisee Tarek Elkafrawi has been postponed until May.

U.S. District Court Judge David Katz on Wednesday granted a motion by Mr. Elkafrawi to continue his jury trial, which had been set for Sept. 30.

Mr. Elkafrawi, 55, of Middleton Township near Perrysburg, is charged with money laundering, alien harboring, use of fire or explosive to commit a felony, arson, and multiple counts of mail fraud, health-care fraud, aggravated identity theft, and identity theft.

The indictment handed down in May, 2012, alleges Mr. Elkafrawi employed more than 200 illegal immigrants to work at seven IHOP restaurants in Ohio and Indiana and that he and other employees forged work papers for them, among other allegations.

“Although 14 of the 18 defendants have entered plea arrangements with the United States, Tarek Elkafrawi has not and does not plan to do so,” defense attorney Richard Kerger wrote in a brief seeking a new trial date.

Saying he and co-counsel Stephen Hartman were involved in other trials in September, Mr. Kerger also said that “the shift in the defendants who will be likely proceeding to trial as opposed to those originally charged warrants a reassessment of the defense of the case.”

To date, 14 co-defendants, all employees of Mr. Elkafrawi, have pleaded guilty in agreements with the government. Three of the 14 entered guilty pleas Wednesday before Judge Katz.

●Mohamed Hassan, 58, of Toledo, who worked as a manager at the Perrysburg IHOP, pleaded guilty to identity theft and false statements.

●Khaled Yousef, 35, of Toledo, who worked as a manager at the Talmadge Road and Central Avenue locations, pleaded guilty to alien harboring, two counts of aggravated identity theft, identity theft, false statements, and health-care fraud.

●Jamil Mohammed Awwad, 38, of Ypsilanti, Mich., who worked as a manager at the Perrysburg location, pleaded guilty to alien harboring, aggravated identity theft, identity theft, false statements, and health-care fraud.

Still scheduled for trial on Sept. 30 are Mr. Elkafrawi’s wife, Kelly Elkafrawi, 50, of Middleton Township; Autumn Lee Tangas, 55, of Sylvania, who worked as a franchise business consultant for IHOP, and Tarek Eid Omar, 37, of Newburgh, Ind.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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