A New York businessman and theme park owner admitted he fraudulently obtained more than $3.2 million through federal coronavirus aid — using a portion of the funds to purchase a home on Nantucket, according to the US Attorney’s Office.
Donald Finley, 61, of Locust Valley, pleaded guilty to disaster relief fraud and wire fraud connected to small business loans he obtained during the COVID-19 pandemic at a federal court hearing in Central Islip, NY.
“I am deeply remorseful for my conduct,” Finley said in court, according to Newsday.
Finley, the owner of Bayville Adventure Park, was accused of submitting fake applications for nearly 30 small business loans between March 2020 and March 2021, receiving approximately $3.2 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDLP), court documents revealed.
Finley allegedly used money meant to aid businesses during the struggle with the pandemic to “purchase personal assets and pay personal expenses,” which included a home on the Massachusetts island.
The fraudster businessman’s plea agreement forces him to pay more than $3.2 million in restitution and a fine of up to $1.25 million.
He also faces up to 30 years in prison during sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 8.
The judge allowed Finley to leave court on an unsecured $500,000 bond, according to the outlet.
The disgraced businessman also owned the Jekyll & Hyde theme restaurant in Manhattan, according to the press release, before it closed down in 2022.
Congress enacted the PPP and EIDLP as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020 during the uncertainty that many businesses faced during the pandemic.
The PPP allowed small businesses to receive unsecured loans on favorable terms for specified expenses, including payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent and utilities.
The EIDLP is a loan that provides low-interest financing to small businesses, renters and homeowners in regions affected by declared disasters — with accepted recipients able to receive an advance of $10,000 within three days of applying.
The advance on the EIDL was not expected to be paid back by those who qualified.
“Mr. Finley took advantage of a program intended to be used to support small businesses as part of the CARES Act of 2020, when he devised a scheme to submit fraudulent information to the government to obtain millions in funds during the pandemic to fund his lavish lifestyle,” US Postal Inspection Service Inspector-in-Charge Daniel Brubaker said in a press release.
With Post wires