LA's Alleged 'Dine-and-Dash Dater' Is Now Facing Up to 13 Years in Prison
Cops say he's racked up a tab of more than $950 on his two-year, meal-stealing spree.
Screenshot via CBS LA
You can go back to swiping freely, Los Angeles, because the city's notorious, alleged "dine-and-dash dater" has been stopped. Over the past six months, women around the LA area have accused 45-year-old Paul Gonzales of matching with them on a dating app, inviting them out for a fancy dinner, and then scarfing down his meal before ditching them with the check.
Gonzales allegedly feasted on free wine and steaks over the course of his food heist spree before the police finally caught up to him. A warrant went out for his arrest in early July and now, finally, Gonzales is in custody—and he's facing felony charges of theft and extortion, KTLA reports.
"He's a very, very handsome man," one of Gonzales's dates told CBS LA during an interview earlier this year. "His eyes are absolutely gorgeous."
Another of his alleged victims explained to CBS that Gonzales ordered "a glass of pinot, a Caesar salad with a side of shrimp, a steak, and a baked potato," during their blind date. "He left maybe half a baked potato and then received a phone call and said 'I need to take this call,'" she continued. "The waiter came back and said, 'He's not out there. Is this a first date? And I said: 'Yes, this is a first blind date, and he said, 'He's gone.'"
While Gonzales's supposed free-meal maneuvers first started making headlines back in March, authorities say he's been pulling the stunts since at least 2016. "From May 2016 through April 2018, Gonzales is accused of taking financial advantage of women he met mostly through dating apps and websites," the LA County DA's office wrote in a statement.
"Eight women purportedly ended up paying the bill themselves," the DA's office continued, saying that Gonzales racked up a tab of "more than $950" on his unsuspecting dates's dime. A few restaurants that picked up the bill for the ditched dates are also named as victims in the criminal complaint. And free meals weren't the only thing Gonzales allegedly scammed—he has been accused of skipping out on paying a hair salon after an appointment, too.
Gonzales is now facing ten felony charges, including seven counts of extortion and one count of grand theft, among others. He pleaded not guilty on Monday and has a hearing set next week. If he's convicted for the serial dine-and-dashing, he could wind up spending as many as 13 years in California state prison.
Worry not, everyone. The allged dine-and-dash dater has been apprehended. Dating apps can return to the wonderful place of love and respect that they were before Gonzales came along.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow VICE on Twitter.