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Federal jury convicts father, son of COVID-19 fraud in connection to Charlotte restaurant

A judge released La Shish Kabob owner Izzat Freitekh with electronic monitoring and detained his son Tarik Freitekh ahead of sentencing.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A federal jury convicted a Charlotte restaurant owner and his son Thursday in connection to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud and obstruction of justice-related charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina.

Following a trial, jurors convicted 55-year-old Izzat Freitekh, the owner of La Shish Kabob in east Charlotte, of conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and making a false statement, according to Public Information Officer Lia Bantavani. 

A news release from the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of North Carolina, said Izzat Freitekh faces up to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering, 10 years in prison for each count of money laundering, and five years in prison for the count of making a false statement.

Meanwhile, jurors convicted his 33-year-old son Tarik Freitekh of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and falsifying and concealing material facts, Bantavani said. While a judge released his father to home confinement with electronic monitoring, Tarik Freitekh is detained pending sentencing, she added.

The United States Attorney’s Office said Tarik Freitekh faces up to 30 years in prison for the count of bank fraud, 20 years for wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, 10 years for the count of money laundering, and five years for the count of falsifying material facts. 

Sentences for both Izzat and Tarik Freitekh will be determined by a federal district court judge. 

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Prosecutors accused the father and son of fraudulently securing more than $1.7 million in PPP loans in 2020. A federal indictment accused the pair of submitting fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of multiple companies: La Shish Kabob Restaurant and La Shish Catering, Green Apple Catering LLC and Aroma Packaging Systems.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Izzat told law enforcement a company called “Kyber Capital” was responsible for the PPP loan applications in question. Prosecutors previously said law enforcement recovered most of the $1.7 million in PPP funds.

“The CARES Act was intended to help people and businesses harmed by the pandemic, not to line the pockets of greedy individuals," Tommy Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said in a statement. "The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will continue to work with our partners to hold accountable those who lie and cheat the government out of money to enrich themselves."

The PPP program helped small businesses and other types of organizations receive forgivable loans for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utilities. In return, businesses had to spend the loan within a set period of time and use the money to cover a percentage of payroll costs.

Contact Nate Morabito at nmorabito@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions reporting on and engaging the community around the problems and solutions as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.    

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