Financing

New York restaurateur faces 30 years in prison for PPP, EIDLP abuses

Donald Finley, former operator of the now-defunct Jekyll & Hyde theme restaurant, acknowledged that he misused funds from 29 federal loans.
The entrance to the now-shuttered Jekyll & Hyde in New York City. / Photo: Shutterstock

The operator of a now-shuttered themed restaurant in New York City is facing a possible jail sentence of up to 30 years and a fine of $1.3 million after pleading guilty to defrauding the federal government of $3.2 million in federal COVID-19 aid.

Donald Finley admitted in federal court that he used the proceeds from 29 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDLP) loans for personal expenses, including the purchase of a house in the Massachusetts resort of Nantucket.

Finley, age 61, had been the operator of the now-shuttered eatertainment establishment Jekyll & Hyde in New York City, and remains the proprietor of a small theme park, Bayville Adventure Park, in the Long Island town of Bayville.

He pleaded guilty to federal relief fraud and wire fraud in a federal court in Islip, N.Y.

“While he may be the owner of an amusement park meant to bring joy, with his guilty plea and pending sentencing, Finley may be facing a future that he could find much less enjoyable,” Thomas Fattorusso, special agent in charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation unit for New York.

In addition to paying a $1.3 million fine, Finley, age 61, is subject to repayment of the $3.2 million he received through the two federal aid programs.

Although investigation of federal-aid fraud have become common in the aftermath of the pandemic, few have sought penalties on the scale of what Finley faces. His sentencing is expected to take place in the fall.

Jekyll & Hyde was a scary-movie-themed restaurant in the heart of Manhattan, complete with secret hideaways, hidden floors and lurking monsters.

Bayville Adventure Park is a small attraction in the waterside town of Bayville, a section of Nassau County that resembles the boardwalk towns of southern Jersey. Its draws include several foodservice outlets.  

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