Paul Guadalupe Gonzales is the 45 year old Los Angeles man who earned the name of the “dine-and-dash dater” after allegedly meeting a string of women online and inviting them on dinner dates, only to run out and leave them to foot the bill. In August, Gonzales pleaded not guilty to felony charges of theft and extortion; in early September, he pleaded not guilty to four new felony counts of extortion.
Here’s what you need to know about Paul Guadalupe Gonzales:
1. If Convicted, Gonzales Could Face Up to 13 Years in Jail for Allegedly Stealing from Women and Restaurants
The court has begun hearing testimony from women who say that Gonzales “humiliated” them with his dine-and-dash routine. According to a press release from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Gonzales faces “seven counts of extortion, two counts of attempted extortion and one count of grand theft, all felonies.” The press release says that he is also charged with two misdemeanor counts: defrauding an innkeeper and petty theft.
Prosecutors say Gonzales carried out his “dine and dash” scheme at least ten times, meeting women on dating sites and inviting them to dinner, only to hurry away at the end of the meal and leave the women to pay the bill. In eight cases, the women paid for dinner, hoping that Gonzales would eventually pay them back. In two other cases, the restaurant owners paid for the meals.
The DA’s office says that Gonzales “stole” about $950 from the eight women.
2. Gonzales Used a Variety of Excuses to Get Out of Paying the Bill: Sometimes his Aunt Was Sick, and Sometimes He Needed to Charge His Phone
Gonzales varied his techniques from one date to another, but his basic MO was always the same. He’d meet a woman on a dating site and feign intense interest in her, acting charming and, in at least one case, a bit fawning. Then he’d invite the woman out on a date at a swanky restaurant. Over dinner, he’d continue to be charming and attentive. But then suddenly, just before the check arrived, he’d make up an excuse to leave the table — and he’d never come back.
In one case, Gonzales said that his aunt was sick and that he’d have to leave immediately. In another case, he left the table to make a phone call, and just never came back. His bewildered date asked the waiter where he’d gone and was shocked to learn that Gonzales has left the building, sticking her with a bill for $250.
3. Women Who Dated Gonzales Said He Acted Like He Was Having a Great Time — Until He Suddenly Vanished
A Van Nuys woman named Diane Guilmette was the first to speak to the media about being scammed by Paul Guadalupe Gonzales. Giulmette told CBS that she met Gonzales on the dating site “Plenty of Fish.” She said he was attentive and flattering. After they exchanged messages for a while, he invited her out to dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse in downtown LA. Guilmette said the place was “pricey” for her.
Once they met for dinner, she said, “He ordered a lot of food. He had an appetizer. He ordered a steak. This restaurant is all al la carte. He even ordered a couple sides, a glass of wine. So he was looked like he was really enjoying himself. But then he suddenly vanished. Guilmette told CBS, “When we got near to the end of the meal, not quite finished, he said he had to go make a phone call.”
4. Gonzales Used False Names But Was Still Recognized at Least Once By Angry Restaurant Staff
A woman named Carol told Inside Edition that she, also met Gonzales on a dating website — but she said he was calling himself “Mike.” “Mike” seemed to be a “great guy” and a natural charmer. Carol told Inside Edition that finding out about who Mike really was was a terrible experience for her: “He knew all the right things to say and that’s what makes me really angry inside,” she said.
“Mike” and Carol went out to eat at Mercado, a high-end Mexican restaurant, where he told her that he had already eaten and then proceeded to order a steak dinner for himself. But in the middle of their meal, restaurant manager Justin Leyvas recognized him from TV news reports.
“I said, ‘You’re the notorious dine-and-dash dater,’ and he kind of looked perplexed. And I said, ‘That’s you, right?’ He said yes. I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to serve you,'” Leyvas told Inside Edition. Gonzales took off, and the restaurant payed for the meal.
5. Gonzales Liked to Color His Hair, But Didn’t Like to Pay
Prosecutors say that Gonzales — in what they call an “unrelated” case — also took advantage of a hair salon. The DA’s office said, “in a separate and unrelated incident, the defendant also allegedly received services from a hair salon and left without paying.”
CBS reports that Gonzales got a “color and cut” at a salon in Burbank in February 2016 but left without paying the salon.
Gonzales is 45 years old and a Los Angeles area resident. He is accused of using dating apps and websites to meet and woo women — but allegedly with the sole purpose of using the women as meal tickets. Prosecutors say that between May 2016 and April 2018 he defrauded women out of at least $950.