Federal authorities said the 18 people indicted on numerous charges stemming from last fall’s raids on area IHOP restaurants — most some type of fraud — were “cooking the books as well as cooking pancakes.”
The “schemes” resulted in a “significant financial loss to corporate IHOP,” of about $3 million, said George Crouch, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI, during a news conference this afternoon in downtown Toledo.
A majority of the charges filed against 18 people stemming from raids last fall at a number of area IHOP restaurants are for money laundering, harboring illegal immigrants, and identity theft.
Federal court documents, filed Tuesday and unsealed this morning, name 18 people — including Tarek Fawzie Elkafrawi, of Wood County’s Middleton Township, who had either an ownership or management role in the restaurants that were raided on Sept. 20.
“These defendants turned pancake houses into crime dens,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Steven Dettelbach in a news release. “This indictment lays out a menu of crimes ranging from harboring undocumented workers to identity theft to money laundering to insurance fraud.”
Representatives of a number of law enforcement agencies from the federal, state, and local levels this afternoon announced the details of the indictment filed in U.S. District Court.
The FBI states that the three-year-long investigation led to last September’s raid and charges.
The locations raided on Sept. 20 included those at: 4045 Talmadge Rd.; 6920 West Central Ave. in Sylvania Township; 10151 Fremont Pike in Perrysburg Township; 6535 Airport Hwy. in Springfield Township, and at locations in Findlay, Lima, and Evansville, Ind. Seized during those raids was $115,914.91.
According to public records and the local Better Business Bureau Web site, Mr. Elkafrawi, also known as “Terry Elk,” Kamil Madi, and Mazen Khdeer at the time of the raids had either ownership or management roles in the seven franchises.
With the exception of the Lima restaurant, Mr. Elkafrawi was listed as the president of all the affected IHOPs, and Mr. Khdeer was identified as manager of the West Central Avenue and Airport Highway locations. The Lima location was owned by TE & KM Inc., which is a limited liability company owned by Mr. Elkafrawi.
An official said all 18 people were arrested early this morning.
Arrests and charges include:
- Mr. Elkafrawi, money laundering, alien harboring, four counts of mail fraud, three counts of health care fraud, two counts of use of fire or explosive to commit a felony, two counts of arson, two counts aggravated identity theft, and two counts of identity theft;
- Tarek Eid Omar, money laundering, alien harboring, two counts mail fraud, two counts identity fraud, and health care fraud;
- Autumn Lee Tangas, money laundering, alien harboring, mail fraud, false statements, and misprision of a felony;
- Kelly Elkafrawi, money laundering and alien harboring;
- Jose Leon-Gonzalez, alien harboring, two counts of use of fire or explosive to commit a felony; two counts arson;
- Carlos Gamboa, alien harboring, two counts identity theft;
- Khaled Yousef, alien harboring, two counts aggravated identity theft, two counts identity theft, false statements, health care fraud;
- Jamil Mohammed Awwad, alien harboring, two counts aggravated identity theft, two counts identity theft, false statements, health care fraud;
- Ramiz Awwad, alien harboring, two counts aggravated identity theft, two counts identity theft, false statements, health care fraud;
- Khalil Aboudakka, alien harboring, two counts identity theft, false statements;
- Mahmoud Ali, alien harboring, two counts identity theft, false statements;
- Mohamed Hassan, alien harboring, two counts identity theft, false statements;
- Donna J. Harriott, alien harboring, two counts identity theft, false statements;
- Lucky Williams, alien harboring, two counts identity theft;
- Sara Rinebolt, two counts identity theft, false statements;
- Cesar Avila, alien harboring, two counts identity theft;
- Mark Anthony Turner, two counts identity theft, false statements;
- Yoni Merida, two counts identity theft.
The FBI’s release alleges Mr. Elkafrawi and Ms. Tangas “and others” manipulated sales figures, salaries, and payrolls to evade taxes, avoid paying royalties, and illegally divert money from the IHOP franchises to themselves.
The agency also accuses Mr. Elkafrawi of employing about 200 illegal immigrants at his restaurants, most of whom used fraudulent or stolen identities.
Mr. Elkafrawi is accused of arranging for people to be brought into the country illegally and having store managers accept false paperwork for employment. If there was no paperwork, he allegedly had Mr. Gamboa, Mr. Leon-Gonzalez, and others obtain documentation.
Federal authorities say that Mr. Elkafrawi generated $1.2 million in unreported income by manipulating wages and under reporting income of the undocumented workers, according to the indictment.
In 2008, federal authorities said, Mr. Elkafrawi’s Findlay IHOP location burned as a result of arson. Investigators said Mr. Leon-Gonzalez set the fire after being directed to do so by Mr. Elkafrawi and Mazen Khdeer, who was either a manager or owner at some of the locations.
After the fire, Mr. Elkafrawi filed a $1.3 million insurance claim.
Mr. Elkafrawi and Mr. Omar are also accused of hiding and concealing funds through real estate transactions.
The indictment claims that Mr. Elkafrawi purchased two homes, one in Newburgh, Ind., and one at 14745 Prairie Lake Dr., in Toledo, using laundered assets.
Authorities want to seize the Indiana home, more than $37,000 in cash, the seven IHOP franchises, a dozen bank accounts, and several vehicles.