Dec 7, 2022 - COVID

La Shish Kabob owner, son sentenced to years in prison for PPP fraud

la shish kabob

Axios archives

La Shish Kabob owner Izzat Freitekh and his son Tarik Freitekh were sentenced Monday to four years and more than seven years in prison, respectively, for fraudulently obtaining $1.7 million in PPP funds. 

Context: A federal jury convicted the pair of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud in March. They were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of bank fraud and one count of false statements by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in December 2020.

  • The Freitekhs submitted multiple fraudulent PPP loan applications for companies owned by Izzat, including La Shish Kabob, La Shish Kabob Catering, Green Apple Catering, and Aroma Packaging.
  • The office recovered $1.3 million of the $1.7 million, which has been returned to the lender, per the Department of Justice.
  • The Freitekhs also used the PPP funds to make $30,000 in payments to family members, per the DOJ.

The intrigue: The Freitekhs insisted they were innocent.

  • Tarik Freitekh passed out in the courtroom shortly after the March verdict and was taken away in an ambulance.

Why it matters: The Paycheck Protection Program aimed to provide forgivable loans for American businesses financially struggling due to the pandemic, and while it has helped businesses stay afloat, people, such as the Freitekhs, also took advantage of it.

By the numbers: The Fraud Section, which leads the Criminal Division’s prosecution of PPP exploitation, has prosecuted more than 192 defendants in more than 121 criminal cases, seizing more than $78 million in PPP funds obtained by fraud, per the DOJ.

  • More than 818,412 reports amounting to $965 million in coronavirus-related fraud loss in the U.S. has occurred since the start of the pandemic, according to Federal Trade Commission‘s dashboard.

Details:

  • Izzat Freitekh was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, three counts of money laundering and a single count of making false statements. These convictions carried up to 10 years in prison for each of the first two and up to five years in prison for the third conviction. He received a four-year sentence.
  • Tarik Freitekh was convicted of one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, and falsifying and concealing material facts. He faced up to 30 years, and received an 87-month sentence.

Go deeper: Half of the pandemic’s unemployment money may have been stolen

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