SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP, OH (Toledo News Now) – The public is learning more about the future of the local IHOP restaurants federal authorities say were connected to a major money-laundering scheme.
All of the IHOP restaurants are open for business again Thursday, including the location on Central Avenue, which closed after Wednesday's arrests.
Federal authorities say the restaurants were part of a $3 million scheme that included money laundering, identity theft, and fraud. A federal indictment says owner Terry Elkafrawi was behind the scheme, and was among the people funneling money from the IHOP restaurants to themselves. The indictment also says Elkafrawi hired 200 illegal aliens.
However, the allegations did not stop some customers from visiting the restaurant.
IHOP's corporate owner Dine Equity says it became aware of the federal investigation at the time of the raids, and that it is currently waiting for the judicial system to work its course. The company provided a statement:
"IHOP is committed to following the letter and spirit of the law, and ensuring our team members and franchise owners do so as well. We have been cooperating fully with law enforcement. These new developments, if ultimately proven to be true, are completely contrary to our employment practices and inconsistent with our values. There is no place for such violations within our system."
The federal government is seeking forfeiture of property connected to the indictment, including 7 IHOP restaurants.
IHOP corporate says Tarek Elkafrawi remains the franchise owner, and is responsible for running and hiring management at these locations.