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The Infamous “Dine-and-Dash” Dater

January 01, 2020


We’re at the beginning of 2020 so I wanted to start with a “WOW” – however I hope I’m not overdoing it! When I came across this piece in The Week of August 30, 2019 (it originally appeared in TheDailyBeast.com and was written by journalist, Jeff Maysh) I was thunderstruck. I simply couldn’t believe what I was reading.

It begins by relating how an ER nurse by the name of Marjorie Moon, a 47-year-old divorcée with five kids who lives in LA, was preparing to go on a date with a man named Paul, 43 that she met on the dating website PlentyOfFish. He said that they both love fine dining so he suggested they meet at Tam O’Shanter, one of LA oldest eateries. He had sent her videos of his two young sons and said that he was the CEO of the LA Fitness gym franchise.

They entered the restaurant and quickly perused the menu. Paul ordered a salad, chicken, fish and two lobster tails on the side. When all this was finished he ordered two more lobster tails – ending with a chocolate soufflé.

Then he said that he had to step outside to make a phone call. He never came back. She paid the $250 bill.

At midnight a very angry Moon wrote a Facebook update saying, “Here are the pics of the man who ditched me at dinner.” Her post went viral and soon her in-box was filled with other victims of the same man. His name was not Paul Azini but Gonzales. Just days later he finished a crème brûlûe at the Yard House in Long Beach before he bolted again.

In the spring of 2018 he was still at it, leaving a second date to pay for his filet mignon at Smitty’s Grill in Pasadena. Then on April 11, 2018, Detective Victor Cass was summoned to his sergeant’s office at the Pasadena Police Department. Cass is 49, slim and holsters his Glock 9mm beneath sharply cut suits. Divorced in 2003, he is also a veteran of online dating.

Two weeks later, a model from Santa Clarita was arriving for a first date with a match from Bumble called “Mike” who, when he decided to slip away, was stopped by the restaurant’s manager and told to leave at once.

A few days later Gonzales was at the Mercado restaurant. It was just nine blocks away. Detective Cass missed him there but was told, “This guy was at Houston’s two days ago.” Cass knew this restaurant had security cameras and he found what he was looking for: Gonzales slipping out the door.

Paul Gonzales in the flesh – remember this face. Photo: Courtesy of The Week, August 30, 2019

Back at the office Cass started to assemble his victims. The women were from all backgrounds, all races and ages. Gonzales didn’t have a type he just wanted three courses and a zero bill. On May 21, Cass tracked down the ex-wife of Gonzales and recognized the two children he had seen in photos.

Four days later, at a luxury apartment building in Pasadena, he found – of all people – Gonzales’ mother, who is a respected clinical social worker. She said, “One thing I can tell you is that he never forgave me for leaving his dad when he was a kid.” He’s making women pay ever since, Cass thought. Literally.

On August 25, 2018 the detective noticed a street vendor in Pasadena hawking T-shirts. Springing into action he grabbed the guy and threw on handcuffs. Then he made a radio call, “This is Foot Beat Three. We have Paul Gonzales in custody – the Dine-and-Dash Dater.” When Cass got the suspect’s phone he found literally – hundreds of photos – of women dating back to 2013. THAT IS AN ASTOUNDING STATEMENT: MAKE SURE YOU READ IT TWICE.

Gonzales went to jail for 120 days and when he got out he met with Jeff, the intrepid journalist, and said that his dating days are over. He’s in a healthy relationship with newborn twins and has a high-powered job with Nike. Jeff didn’t believe a word he said.

The hard-working ER nurse and mother of five who had sworn off restaurant dates, eventually agreed to meet another handsome stranger from a dating app. She found a babysitter and drove across town, but this time her date picked up the check, she said, speaking from their honeymoon in Hawaii. You can’t beat that ending!

Comment: I once interviewed a detective at the 19th Precinct (located on Manhattan’s posh upper East side) about a murder that occurred on Park Avenue. It involved a wealthy woman and her second husband, an Indian prince. After well over an hour of speaking with the detective, I came to the conclusion that his “tenacity and hang-in-there” sensibility was fantastic. He would go anywhere and do anything to solve a case. The suspects were finally caught in Las Vegas. 

Treasure Island in Las Vegas, Nevada

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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