ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) – The owner of eight Denny’s in New York State will pay $2 million after falsifying COVID aid application.

Feast American Diners LLC and its corporate owner Dawood “David” Beshay will pay the money to resolve fraud allegations. Beshay owned Upstate Denny’s locations in Watertown, Syracuse, Auburn, Camillus and Cicero. He also owned restaurants in Arizona.

The settlement was announced in a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office on Wednesday, November 1 and said that it was to resolve allegations that Beshay falsely certified that Feast American Diners was eligible for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grant when he knew or should have known that his company owned and operated too many locations to qualify for the funding.

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was meant to provide a financial lifeline to restaurants and other eligible entities that were struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Feast American Diners and Dawood Beshay are paying a steep price for falsely certifying their eligibility for these funds.

United States Attorney Carla Freedman

In the settlement agreement, Feast American Diners and Beshay admitted, acknowledged, and acceptred responsibility for the following facts:  In May 2021, Beshay applied for an RRF grant on behalf of Feast American Diners, in the amount of $928,554.  One of the questions on the application asked whether Feast American Diners owned or operated more than 20 locations as of March 13, 2020, to which Feast American Diners responded “no.” 

Guidelines were released in April 2021 that anyone with more than 20 locations as of March 13, 2020 was not allowed to get RRF grants.

Answering “yes” to the application would have deemed Feast American Diners and Beshay ineligible for funds. The investigation began in December 2022, when a whistleblower filed a complaint. Whistleblowers are allowed to share in any recovery, which will be $200,000.

The Watertown Denny’s location closed down in November of 2022.