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LA Dine and Dash Dater Has All Felony Charges Suddenly Dropped

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Prosecutors are still keen to charge him with two misdemeanors

Mercado Pasadena
Mercado in Pasadena
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

The saga of the notorious Southern California dine and dash dater continues. This week brings word that Pasadena-area man Paul Guadalupe Gonzales will no longer face any felony charges (at least for now) for allegedly defrauding nearly a dozen women by skipping out on paying the bill at restaurants during first dates.

According to the Pasadena Star-Ledger, the notorious dine-and-dasher has had his charges substantially reduced by a Superior Court judge in the city of Pasadena. In the preliminary hearing, Judge Darrell Mavis argued that, while Gonzales’s alleged actions did indeed leave victims (both the restaurants, and the women he defrauded), it was hard to pinpoint exactly which crimes he could justifiably be charged with in a court of law. As a result, all of his felonies were wiped away, leaving only two misdemeanors behind, including petty theft. This, despite in-person testimony from seven different women Gonzales is said to have walked out on without paying, including one unnamed victim who admitted she “felt humiliated” when realizing that Gonzales had left.

Gonzales was the subject of months of intense speculation when he first popped up, unnamed, as a wanted man back in early 2017. By then he had already allegedly stuck several unsuspecting women with restaurant bills in Northeast LA and Long Beach, but police had failed to track him down despite having information on him from various dating profiles, and a photo.

This past spring Gonzales showed up again, reportedly making off after a $130 meal at Smitty’s Grill in Pasadena. That came on the heels of other incidents at Mercado not far away, and well after a public campaign had been waged on the news to bring Gonzales to justice.

Towards the end of the summer Gonzales was tracked down and hauled in on ten different felony charges and two misdemeanors, with bail set at over $300,000. At the time prosecutors argued that the act of stiffing restaurants and/or unsuspecting customers for a total of more than $950 (the legal monetary baseline for a felony) should make each of the crimes punishable as more than just a misdemeanor. Now the judge has disagreed with that assessment, and arraignment is scheduled for Monday.