Father, son found guilty in COVID-19 fraud trial involving east Charlotte restaurant

CHARLOTTE — On Thursday, a jury found a father and son guilty in a COVID-19 fraud trial involving a Charlotte restaurant.

Izzat Freitekh owns the La Shish Kabob restaurant in east Charlotte. He and his son, Tarik Freitekh, have been on trial since March 8 for bank and wire fraud charges.

Izzat was found guilty of false statements and money laundering. He will be allowed to remain out and continue to work and go to religious services.

His attorney is still pleased that he was found not guilty on two of the charges.

“We are happy the jury found him not guilty on both of the PPP charges for wire fraud and bank fraud but we got a long ways to go,” said Rob Heroy.

Tarik was found guilty of the bank and wire fraud charges as well as money laundering and falsifying materials.

Channel 9′s Joe Bruno was in the courtroom and said Tarik passed out after the verdict was read. The courtroom was then cleared and Bruno said 911 was called.

Tarik was examined by MEDIC and is OK.

Due to his California residency, the judge ordered him detained while he awaits sentencing.

Stephen Lindsey, Tarik’s attorney, claimed the fight is not over.

“It’s not over, until it’s over so we will keep trying and working hard,” he said.

U.S. Attorney Dena King praised the prosecutors and investigators for their work on this case.

“This father-son duo took advantage of a national crisis and funds that would have been used by many citizens to be used for many good things. This father-son duo did the wrong thing with those funds,” she said.

Sentencing is expected in the next two to six months.

Investigators said the scheme involved PPP loan applications from three different companies. They said the loans totaled around $1.7 million.

Federal investigators said applications for La Shish Kabob Restaurant and another company called La Shish Catering included false and fraudulent IRS tax documentation.

An application on behalf of “Green Apple Catering LLC” said it “paid $4.8 million to employees in 2019 despite evidence that the company did not exist until March of 2020.”

Investigators also said another application included “false company payroll information and fraudulent IRS tax documents” on behalf of a company called “Aroma Packaging Systems.”

In Dec. 2020, Channel 9 reporter Tina Terry dug deeper and learned that Tarik Freitekh lives a glamorous lifestyle. The self-described film-producer can be seen posing on social media with Justin Bieber and other celebrities. His net worth is reportedly $300 million.

An attorney for Izzat Freitekh sent a statement in Dec. 2020 saying, “Mr. Freitekh has pleaded not guilty and has requested a jury trial. He looks forward to the full story coming out in a courtroom.”

In court Wednesday, prosecutors denied the notion that the Freitekhs didn’t know what they were doing.

Federal investigators said they have recovered nearly all the money in the case.

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