The owner of multiple Denny's restaurants in Central New York and elsewhere agreed to pay $2 million for falsifying facts on a grant application to become eligible for government funding during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Attorney Carla Freedman announced Wednesday afternoon.

Feast American Diners LLC and Dawood “David” Beshay, owner and managing member of Denny’s restaurants in Syracuse, Auburn, Camillus, Cicero and Watertown, as well as Arizona, will pay the $2 million to resolve allegations he falsely certified Feast American Diners was eligible for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) grant, when he, in fact, operated too many locations to qualify for the funding, Freedman said.

In a settlement agreement, the LLC and Beshay admitted applying for an RRF grant on behalf of Feast American Diners in May 2021 for $928,554 while indicating he did not own or operate more than 20 Denny's locations – the maximum number eligible for an RRF grant – when Feast American Diners owned 21 Denny’s locations at the time, which Beshay acknowledged he should have known, Freedman said.

“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," she said. "Feast American Diners and Dawood Beshay are paying a steep price for falsely certifying their eligibility for these funds."

The RRF is a $28.6 billion fund allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act, for which qualifying restaurants and other entities can apply to offset revenue losses caused by the pandemic.

The investigation started in December 2022, when a complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York by a whistleblower, or “relator,” who will receive $200,000 of the settlement, Freedman said.