TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - While the indictments may come as a shock to IHOP customers, a former employee is speaking out.
Richard Bethel is angry, saying he worked there and paid for meals for his family. He wonders where the money went. He says he is also sad that a place he enjoyed going to work at every morning has come to this.
Bethel described the scene at the Talmadge Road IHOP on September 20, 2011 as federal agents raided it after being tipped off to fraud:
"The whole troop came in there and he says 'There's the cops and they aren't here to eat!' So it was a scary feeling."
Bethel was a cook at the popular eatery, and says he went through 90 minutes of questioning by the FBI. He says he is stunned by today's indictments:
"I wouldn't believe it. The only thing I had in the back of my mind was the illegal workers. Because I did work with a couple of illegal workers at that time. [So you knew that was going on?] Yeah. Definitely, especially when the guys don't speak English."
Bethel says he knows several names on the indictment, but feels managers of the restaurants were set up to take the fall.
Bethel was also asked about the accused ringleader of the fraud operation, Tarek Elkafrawi.
"And he was the man who ultimately signed my paycheck so I had to respect the man. I thought he has a good business sense, really. And now I don't know. I don't know. If this is all true then lock him up for years," he said.
Bethel says he left the IHOP a few weeks after the September raids. He says his hours were cut when the customer base dwindled.
He has a new job at a different restaurant, but feels bad for who he calls the "legitimate" workers who are still at IHOP, left to wonder if customers will really stay away after a list of names filled the TV screen.