Financing

Restaurateur who stole $3.2 million in COVID aid is sentenced to 2 years in prison

Donald Finley, owner-operator of the now-closed Jekyll & Hyde eatertainment concept in New York City, has already repaid the funds he received from the Paycheck Protection Program and another government program.
Jekyll & Hyde
The former greeter at the now-defunct Jekyll & Hyde in New York City. | Photo: Shutterstock

The owner-operator of the once-popular but now shuttered Jekyll & Hyde eatertainment restaurant in New York City has been sentenced to two years in prison and 500 hours of community service for bilking the federal government out of $3.2 million in pandemic aid.

Donald Finley, age 61, had pleaded guilty to the federal charges last May but was not sentenced at that time.

The penalties he was given Tuesday also include a $15,000 fine. The Long Island resident had already repaid the $3.2 million in aid he had collected by lying on his applications for federal COVID aid. Finley successfully sought 29 loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan initiative.

The funds were supposed to be used to prop up Jekyll & Hyde and Finley’s second hospitality venture, a Long Island food and games arcade called Bayville Adventure Park.

Instead, according to federal investigators, Finley laundered the money through a network of more than 30 bank accounts to keep authorities from tracing the funds to him. He then used a big portion of the dollars to purchase property in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

At the time Finley was caught and prosecuted, his deception was one of the higher profile cases of restaurateurs abusing federal COVID aid programs. In few other instances did the cheaters garner as much money as Finley did, or apply for as many loans.

“Let this be a lesson to other lawbreakers who have engaged in similar conduct that this Office will not forgive and forget COVID-19 fraud,” Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in announcing the sentencing.

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