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Published: Saturday, 12/29/2012

Pretrial release OK’d for ex-IHOP owner


A former International House of Pancakes franchise owner accused of participating in a scheme to employ more than 200 illegal immigrants at his restaurants will be released from custody pending trial in U.S. District Court in Toledo, a federal judge has ruled.

Judge David Katz issued an order Thursday granting Tarek Elkafrawi’s motion for release. The judge set a court date for Friday before Magistrate Judge James Knepp II, when Mr. Elkafrawi will be given the conditions of his release.

Mr. Elkafrawi was arrested May 23 after being indicted on 53 counts of money laundering, alien harboring, mail fraud, health-care fraud, and use of fire or explosive to commit a felony, arson, aggravated identity theft, and identity theft.

He is one of 18 people arrested and accused in a scheme involving employees of six IHOP restaurants in northwest Ohio and one in Indiana.

After Mr. Elkafrawi’s arrest, IHOP parent Dine Equity Inc., revoked his franchises and took over operation of the four Toledo-area restaurants plus ones in Lima, Ohio, and Evansville, Ind. The seventh restaurant, in Findlay, was closed.

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