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 surrendered Monday to serve his 120-day jail sentence.
Paul Guadalupe Gonzales, 45, pleaded no contest in November to three counts of defrauding an innkeeper by non-payment and one count of petty theft.
In addition to the jail time, Superior Court Judge Stan Blumenfeld placed Gonzales on probation for three years.
He was also ordered to pay $240 in restitution to two of his victims 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.
Gonzales spent just under a month in jail following his Aug. 25 arrest by Pasadena police and received credit for that time.
At the time of his plea, Gonzales also 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 had been out of jail 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, but added two of the four misdemeanor counts to which Gonzales ultimately pled.
At the Sept. 19 hearing in which the felony counts were dismissed, 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.
Deputy District Attorney Michael Fern countered that Gonzales “wanted a free meal” and shifted the burden of paying for the meal to the women, whom he said “didn’t want to be accused of being an accomplice to the defendant’s crime.”
During the preliminary hearing in September, 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.
Gonzales met the women through online dating sites and took them to restaurants near Beverly Hills, as well as Pasadena, Glendale and Long Beach, according to testimony.
Pasadena police Detective Victor Cass testified that he arrested Gonzales after recognizing him while the defendant was walking in the Old Town are 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.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)