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Feds don’t crave eateries

Melissa Topey • Nov 8, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Members of a local family with restaurants in Erie and Ottawa counties are in a pickle these days, likely facing time in federal prison for financial crimes.

Even so, there’s a good chance the Gonos family’s eateries — Dianna’s Deli in Perkins and Port Clinton, and The Depot Family Restaurant in Sandusky — will remain intact, regardless of each family member’s fate.

Click HERE for more stories about the family and their restaurants

In April, immigration agents raided the family’s $671,000 home on Crosstree Lane in Sandusky. The federal government then indicted Haralambos Gonos, 53; Andreas Gonos, 28; Chris Gonos, 32; Kyriakos Gonos, 30; and Sofia Skoura, 52, on charges stemming from allegations they structured financial transactions to avoid filing required bank reports.

On Oct. 30, Haralambos pleaded guilty in U.S. Northern District Court to conspiracy to structuring financial transactions to evade filing currency transaction reports; conspiracy to structure financial transactions to evade filing reports; and conspiracy to engage in bulk cash smuggling. The family made dozens of financial transactions from 2007 to 2009 — totaling more than $1.8 million — but they never reported the transactions as required by law, according to federal officials.    Andreas, Chris and Kyriakos all pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to structure financial transactions to evade filing currency transaction reports.

When they’re sentenced on Feb. 11 at the federal court in Toledo, Judge Jeffrey Helmick could sentence each of them to a maximum of five years in prison and fine them up to $250,000 apiece.

Haralambos is also scheduled for sentencing in February. He faces 27 to 33 months in prison, although Helmick could reduce that to 18 to 22 months if he believes Haralambos has accepted responsibility for his actions, said Michael Tobin, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice.

“By his plea agreement, he agreed to accept responsibility for what occurred,” said Ralph Cascarilla, Haralambos’ attorney. “We are optimistic the family will be able to manage the operations of the family’s three businesses.”

Skoura is the only remaining defendant whose case is pending. Helmick has given her until Nov. 10 to complete her plea negotiations.

Haralambos’ attorney said the family’s restaurants should continue to operate, given that family members are stepping in to help. The Dianna’s Deli restaurants are located on Milan Road in Perkins Township and East Harbor Road in Port Clinton, and the Depot restaurant is on Tiffin Avenue in Sandusky.

Earlier this year, federal authorities stopped Haralambos and Sofia at a Detroit airport, finding them in possession of $14,736 cash. Federal law requires passengers to let authorities know if they’re carrying more than $10,000 cash on them. The incident resulted in a charge of conspiracy to engage in bulk cash smuggling.

The investigation continued, culminating in the indictment in April, when authorities searched the family’s home and also arrested all five family members. They were all later released on bond, although the court imposed special restrictions on Chris Gonos, who tested positive for drugs while he was out on bond.

Haralambos has agreed to forfeit to the government about $189,000, as well as a 2005 Porsche and a 2007 Mercedes. His plea agreement did not involve any stipulations about the future of the restaurants.

Tobin said he can’t comment on the potential prison time the family members face.

“We’ll leave sentencing up to the judge,” Tobin said.

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