18 indicted in IHOP raid case

The FBI held a news conference in Toledo at 1:30 p.m. to announce the indictments.
The FBI held a news conference in Toledo at 1:30 p.m. to announce the indictments.

TOLEDO, OH (TOLEDO NEWS NOW) – Eighteen people have been indicted on charges related to raids at Toledo area IHOP restaurants in September of 2011.

The 64 count indictment unsealed Wednesday morning names 18 people in a massive conspiracy to defraud the government and IHOP's corporate owner, Dine Equity, and contains charges including identity theft, alien harboring, mail fraud and wire fraud.  The suspects are expected to be arraigned in Federal Court in Toledo Wednesday afternoon.

At the center of the investigation is Tarek Elkafrowi, also known as Terry Elk.  Elkafrowi owns 7 IHOP restaurants, including those in Sylvania, Toledo, Holland, Perrysburg and Findlay, all of which were raided last September.

The indictment alleges Elkafrowi manipulated sales figures in order to avoid paying taxes and steal from IHOP.  According to the indictment, the Elkafrowi and two others took more than $1.2 million in unreported income.  It also alleges the restaurant hired more than 200 illegal aliens.

PDF: View the full indictment

Elkafrowi is also accused of ordering the Findlay IHOP location be set on fire intentionally.  Elkafrowi then submitted a $1.4 million fraudulent insurance claim, according to court documents.

The indictment also states that all 7 IHOP restaurants owned by Elkafrowi have been sized by the federal government.

The IHOP restaurants formerly owned by Elkafrawi and others, raided in September of 2011 and now under the control of the federal government are located at:

  • 601 N. Burkhardt Rd. in Evansville, IN
  • 4045 Talmadge Rd. in Toledo, OH
  • 6535 Airport Highway in Holland, OH
  • 7777 Township Rd. in Findlay, OH
  • 6920 W. Central Ave. in Toledo, OH
  • 10151 Fremont Pike in Perrysburg, OH
  • 3289 Elida Rd. in Lima, OH

Officials say the arrests were made around 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation held a news conference in Toledo at Wednesday afternoon to announce the indictments.  Members of the joint terrorism task force expected to be in attendance.

Toledo News Now's Craig Thomas spoke on the phone with the wife of an IHOP general manager. His name is Carlos Gamboa. She confirmed he was picked up by multiple agents at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The raids took place in September of 2011. Several locations were raided in northwest Ohio and southeast Indiana. Agents removed many boxes of documents, but the investigation had remained sealed until Wednesday.

Arrested were:
  • Tarek Elkafrawi
  • Tarek Eid Omar
  • Autumn Lee Tangas
  • Kelly Elkafrawi
  • Jose Leon-Gonzalez (aka Jose Leon, aka Jose Vargas, aka Juan Vargas, aka Edwin Martel)
  • Carlos Gamboa
  • Khaled Yousef
  • Jamil Mohammed Awwad
  • Ramiz Awwad
  • Khalil Aboudakka
  • Mohamed Ali
  • Mohamed Hassan
  • Donna J. Harriott
  • Lucky Williams
  • Sara Rinebolt
  • Cesar Avila
  • Mark Anthony Turner
  • Yoni Merida

Most of the IHOP restaurants were open Wednesday and apparently operating as normal, except for the Sylvania Township location on Central Avenue.

Read customer reactions here.

We'll continue to follow this breaking news story and will have updates on WTOL 11 News at 5 and 6, as well as in this article.

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