- A 45-year-old man in California is being accused of taking multiple women out to dinner between 2016 and 2018 before secretly taking off and leaving them with the bill.
- The multiple “dine and dash” dates amount to extortion, fraud, and petty theft, according to prosecutors.
- If a judge decides the evidence warrants a trial, the man could be facing years in jail.
- One woman alleges the man dined with her at an upscale restaurant in Los Angeles before excusing himself for a phone call and leaving the restaurant, leaving her with a $250 tab.
An alleged habitual “dine-and-dash dater” could be facing jail time in California after taking women out to expensive dinners and disappearing before paying the bill.
According to The New York Daily News, 45-year-old Paul Guadalupe Gonzales appeared in a preliminary hearing in Pasadena, California, on Tuesday on 14 counts of extortion.
Prosecutors said during the hearing that Gonzales invited at least 10 women out to dinner over a two-year period beginning in 2016, ordering expensive dishes like steak, lobster, desserts, and wine — and encouraging the women to do the same — before excusing himself from the table, often for a phone call, and eventually leaving the restaurant without a trace.
“The defendant’s wrongful conduct induced innocent third parties to pay for his meal, using the implied threat of public humiliation or being viewed as an accomplice to defrauding an innkeeper,” Los Angeles prosecutors said in a court filing, according the Daily News.
CNN reported Gonzales was facing up to 16 years and 10 months in county prison for the initial 18 charges, but the Daily News said prosecutors dropped four charges at the hearing due to unavailable witnesses — it’s unclear how that will affect the possible maximum sentence.
In two specific instances, prosecutors said the women were left with $120 and $250 tabs, which they paid themselves. In two other instances, the restaurants covered the meal.
“What kind of monster does this? I was so embarrassed. I’m not an insecure woman, but it made me feel very insecure,” an alleged victim told the Daily News. “I’m just glad he got caught. I don’t (want) any other women to have to go through that.”
Many of them women said they met Gonzales online, through dating apps like Bumble.
One alleged victim told the Daily News: “I didn’t want to go. He didn’t look like his pictures. I wasn’t attracted to him.” She said she eventually agreed to go on the date to be “nice.” He allegedly told her to “order whatever you want” and he did too, eating quickly. Then he left to take a phone call and never returned, she said.
Gonzales was arrested in May and remains in custody. He has pleaded not guilty. The preliminary hearing will continue on September 19, when the judge will decide whether the evidence and allegations warrant a trial.