Charlotte restaurant owner, son charged with COVID-19 relief fraud

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A popular Charlotte restaurant owner and his son have been charged with COVID-19 relief fraud.

La Shish Kabob Restaurant owner Izzat Freitekh, 55, and his son Tarik Freitekh, were both charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of bank fraud. WSOC reported Izzat Freitekh was also charged with one count of false statements.

Charlotte ABC-affiliate WSOC learned Freitekh's son, Tarik, lives a glamorous lifestyle. The self-described film-producer can be seen posing on social media with Justin Beiber and other celebrities. His net worth is reportedly $300 million.

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A federal indictment claimed Tarik and his dad took part in a scheme to get "$1.7 million in COVID-19 relief" funds through "multiple fraudulent PPP loan applications on behalf of three sets of companies."

WSOC stopped by Izzat Freitekh's restaurant on North Sharon Amity Friday, where he was working. Freitekh wouldn't talk on camera, but off-camera he insisted he was innocent.

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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 said another application included "false company payroll information and fraudulent IRS tax documents" on behalf of one company called "Aroma Packaging Systems."

WSOC spoke to Tarik's attorney on the phone Friday. He declined to comment.

An attorney for his father sent a statement 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."

Federal investigators said they have already seized $1.3 million in PPP funds that were disbursed.

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