PASADENA (CBSLA) – A man dubbed the Dine-and-Dash Dater for walking out on checks while on first dates with numerous women at Southland restaurants pleaded no contest Tuesday to four misdemeanor charges.
Superior Court Judge Stan Blumenfeld sentenced Paul Guadalupe Gonzales to 120 days in jail and three years on probation after he pleaded no contest to three counts of defrauding an innkeeper by non-payment and one count of petty theft.
The 45-year-old defendant was also ordered to pay an as-yet undetermined amount of restitution and to stay at least 100 yards away from five restaurants; was barred from the dating sites PlentyofFish and Bumble; and was informed that he is subject to search and seizure conditions involving electronic devices and accounts, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
He additionally admitted violating his probation in a 2017 petty theft case involving Macy’s and was ordered to perform 45 days of community labor in that case, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Gonzales was arrested Aug. 25 by Pasadena police and served just under a month behind bars before being released on $100,000 bond following Superior Court Judge Darrell Mavis’ decision to dismiss the most serious counts that had been filed against him – eight felony counts of extortion and two felony counts of attempted extortion.
The prosecution lost its subsequent bid to have the 10 felony counts reinstated.
Gonzales pleaded no contest to the two initial misdemeanor charges to which he was held to answer, along with two other misdemeanor counts that were added against him on Sept. 24.
At the Sept. 19 hearing in which the felony counts were dismissed, Superior Court Judge Darrell Mavis said he did not dispute that the women Gonzales abandoned at restaurants were victims.
“But victims of what crime? … That’s really the issue,” the judge said.
Deputy Public Defender Salvador Salgado argued during the preliminary hearing that the extortion-related charges were “rather exaggerated.” He said the real victim of a person walking out on a check is the restaurant, not the women who were abandoned at the table.
During the preliminary hearing, seven women told Mavis they were “embarrassed” and believed they had no choice but to pay the bill when they realized the man they had met for a first date had left the restaurants without paying any portion of the check. Gonzales allegedly met the women through online dating sites and took them to restaurants near Beverly Hills and in cities including Pasadena, Glendale and Long Beach.
Several of Gonzales’ alleged victims said he ate well and always ordered the most expensive things on the menu. He would allegedly tell the women he was training for a bodybuilding competition and would often order two meals.
In two instances, the restaurants picked up the tab, the prosecutor said. Those businesses are among the victims named in the criminal complaint.
One of the women, Martha Barba, testified that she knew she would be left with the bill the moment Gonzales walked out of a Houston’s restaurant in Pasadena.
Barba said she met Gonzales through the online dating site Plenty of Fish and agreed to meet him for dinner at a Chipotle restaurant in Pasadena, but he subsequently asked to leave the fast-food eatery and go to the nearby Houston’s while assuring her that he would pick up the tab.
Gonzales “mentioned something about FaceTiming with his kids” after the two ate, and said he said he had to go outside to speak with them, but never returned, according to Barba.
Barba said she asked the waitress for the bill — which she thought was close to $200 — and paid it using part of her rent money because she was embarrassed about what had happened.
“I felt humiliated a little bit,” she said.
Other women called to the stand had similar accounts.
All the women said Gonzales chose the restaurants where they met for their first dates, and some said they later contacted the dating site where they had first encountered him to inform them what had happened.
Some witnesses were unavailable to testify at the preliminary hearing, leading to the dismissal of four additional counts.
Gonzales also received a haircut and color treatment from a Pasadena salon in April and left without paying, according to court documents.
The criminal complaint alleges that the crimes occurred between May 2016 and April 2018.
Pasadena police Detective Victor Cass testified that he arrested Gonzales after recognizing him while the defendant was walking in the Old Town area on Aug. 25.
The detective said Gonzales told him that he used to have high-paying sales jobs, but had no money and was basically broke. After his arrest, Gonzales talked at length about his physical ailments and explained that the only way he ever felt better was if he ate really good food, according to the detective.
“He stated that he could not afford to eat in the manner that he was used to eating,” Cass testified.
Gonzales is set to surrender Jan. 14 to serve the remainder of his jail term.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)