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Jekyll & Hyde Owner Could Face Up to 30 Years in Prison for Buying Nantucket Home With COVID Money

Donald Finley pleaded guilty to federal relief fraud and wire fraud, according to a report

New York City Area Celebrates Halloween 2020
Jekyll & Hyde owner pled guilty to misusing COVID money for personal expenses.
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Donald Finley, the owner of the former kitschy Halloween restaurant Jekyll & Hyde, faces up to 30 years in prison for his misuse of COVID funds, according to Restaurant Business Online.

The report states that Finley inappropriately used 29 Paycheck Protection Program (known by shorthand as PPP) and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDLP) loans to pay for non-business items, including the purchase of a vacation home in Nantucket.

After pleading guilty to federal relief fraud and wire fraud, reportedly to the tune of $3.2 million, he may have to pay a fine of up to $1.3 million. That’s in addition to possibly having to serve prison time.

About a year ago, Jekyll & Hyde shuttered its last remaining location after operating in the West Village since 1991 (down from a handful of Jekyll & Hyde locations that the team opened and subsequently closed through the years, including a high-profile one near Times Square). In 2022, Jekyll and Hyde filed for bankruptcy, with over $7.5 million owed to creditors and another $1.5 million in unpaid rent. Restaurant Business Online states that Finley remains the owner of the amusement park, Bayville Adventure Park, on Long Island.

The PPP program was a “chaotic free for all” when it first launched in 2020 — in part because many well-funded, celebrity-backed companies were granted funds intended for struggling small businesses.

Finley joins a growing number of operators accused of using relief money for personal expenses, including one Manhattan restaurateur that was sentenced earlier this year to nearly five years in prison for using pandemic aid money on luxury goods; there have been lawsuits lodged at other hospitality spots throughout the country. In 2022, a prosecutor called PPP the “biggest fraud in a generation,” in a report by NBC News that claimed there’s been “theft” of almost $80 billion from the disaster relief program.