Sorry Saga Of Dine-And-Dash Romeo Ends With Jail

PASADENA, CA — As it turns out, being a terrible date isn’t exactly a crime, much to the relief of the infamous Los Angeles “Dine-and-Dash Dater.” However, defrauding an innkeeper is still frowned upon by the long arm of the law, and so the notorious Paul Guadalupe Gonzales was sentenced to 120 days in jail Thursday.

Gonzales, 45, was looking at hard time before a judge threw out the most serious counts that had been filed against him — eight felony counts of extortion and two felony counts of attempted extortion for luring several women he met online to expensive restaurants and skipping out on the bill. Prosecutors say Gonzales preyed upon women all across Pasadena and Los Angeles. In an act of mercy to all the single ladies of LA, Superior Court Judge Stan Blumenfeld banned Gonzales from the dating sites PlentyOfFish and Bumble as part of his sentence.

Gonzales was ordered to serve 120 days in jail and three years on probation, after he pleaded no contest Friday to three counts of defrauding an innkeeper by non-payment and one count of petty theft.

Gonzales was also ordered to pay an as-yet undetermined amount of restitution and to stay at least 100 yards away from five restaurants; 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.

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 hearing in September, seven women testified that they were embarrassed and believed they had no choice but to pay the bill — ranging from under $100 to as much as $250 — when they realized the man they had met for a first date had left the restaurants without paying any portion of the check.

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.

Gonzales is set to surrender Jan. 14 to serve the remainder of his jail term.

Photo: Youtube screengrab, City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.

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