We previously discussed Paul Guadalupe Gonzales, 45, the so-called “dine-and-dash dater” who would allegedly order expensive meals on first dates and then stiff the dates with the bill by disappearing. Now, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has announced four new charges of extortion that will threaten Gonzales with almost two decades in prison for his bizarre career as a criminal cad. The piling of charges seems to reflect the public anger more than the crimes. We are all disgusted by these accounts but almost a dozen counts of extortion seems a bit excessive.
Gonzales allegedly carried out his scheme with women he found in Pasadena, Long Beach, Burbank and Los Angeles from May 2016 through April 2018. One woman described to The Washington Post how Gonzales ordered “a chicken dish and four lobster tails,” in addition to “expensive wine and then a soufflé for dessert.”
He is also suspected of being the”dye-and-dasher” who would run out on hair salons.
In adding the four extortion counts, prosecutors dropped one felony count of grand theft and one misdemeanor count of petty theft. He now faces a total of 11 felony counts of extortion, two felony counts of attempted extortion, two misdemeanor counts of defrauding an innkeeper by non-payment and one misdemeanor count of petty theft.
Bail was set high at $315,000 and Gonzales faces a possible maximum penalty of 16 years and 10 months in state prison.
The pile on with charges reflects an obvious ploy by the prosecution to force a plea. The extortion charges are a surprise over more obvious charges like fraud.
Under Penal Code 518 PC, the extortion occurs when a person “uses force or threats to compel another person to give you money or other property.” The prosecutors are pursuing a novel claim that “In short, the defendant’s wrongful conduct induced innocent third parties to pay for his meal, using the implied threat of public humiliation or being viewed as an accomplice.”
Any implied humiliation is not the strongest basis for conviction. It also raises highly individualistic responses to such conduct. Many women would not view this is humiliating as much as maddening. Moreover, as raised in our earlier poll, there remains some division over the expectations on who will pay for dinner on such dates, though over 60 percent still believe that the man should pay for the meal.