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Published: Wednesday, 5/28/2014

Charges dismissed against former IHOP consultant


Charges were dismissed Tuesday against a former franchise business consultant for IHOP who was accused along with local franchisee Tarek Elkafrawi of defrauding the company.

U.S. District Judge David Katz granted a motion to dismiss charges of money laundering, alien haboring, mail fraud, making false statements, and misprision of a felony against Autumn Lee Tangas, 56, of Sylvania.

She had been indicted in 2012 for conspiring with Mr. Elkafrawi to manipulate sales figures, salaries, payroll, and losses to avoid paying taxes and royalties and to divert money from DineEquity Inc., the corporate owner of IHOP, the former International House of Pancakes chain.

Ms. Tangas and Mr. Elkafrawi along with his wife, Kelly Elkafrawi, and Tarek Eid Omar had been scheduled to go trial in federal court June 23.

“I’m delighted that the government has dismissed the charges against Ms. Tangas as she is as well,” said Ralph Meczyk, a Chicago lawyer who represents Ms. Tangas.

He said he could not comment on the reasons the government filed the motion to dismiss or whether his client had agreed to testify against the three remaining co-defendants in the case.

Mike Tobin, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment.

Ms. Tangas was among 18 people indicted in May, 2012 — about eight months after federal, state, and local law enforcement agents raided seven IHOP locations in northwest Ohio and Evansville, Ind. To date, 14 of the co-defendants have entered guilty pleas in the case.

Federal prosecutors alleged Mr. Elkafrawi employed more than 200 illegal immigrants to work at the restaurants and that he and other employees forged work papers for them. The indictment alleges some workers were given multiple identities so they could report lower earnings to qualify for government assistance programs. In all, prosecutors claim that as a result of the undocumented workers, the business was able to generate more than $1.2 million in unreported income.

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

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