Marjorie Moon’s date had warned her he was “big into food.” So when Paul Guadalupe Gonzales ordered a second round of lobster tails during their dinner at an upscale steakhouse in Glendale, California, she wasn’t too alarmed.
“I thought for a little guy, man, you sure do eat a lot,” Moon recalled of the May 2016 date.
Sure, there were a couple of minor red flags. He’d laid it on a bit thick during their meal at Lawry’s The Prime Rib, repeatedly gushing about her good looks and even telling their waitress what a lucky guy he was.
But she realized his worst flaw too late: Gonzales loves food, but he wants it for free. As the pair, who had met on a dating app, waited for their soufflé dessert, Gonzales stepped out to make a phone call and never returned, leaving Moon with their $250 bill.
She felt as deflated as the lonely soufflé sitting on their table.
“I just wanted to get home, you know, lick my wounds, so I paid the bill and I left,” Moon said.
She’s hardly the only victim of Gonzales’ alleged dine-and-dash scheme. The serial dater-and-ditcher was arrested over the weekend after multiple women came forward to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office with their horror stories, saying the 45-year-old went to dinner with them and disappeared before the bill came. All told, he allegedly conned them out of a combined $950.
“Eight women purportedly ended up paying the bill themselves, one in the belief that the defendant was going to pay her back, while in two other instances the restaurants picked up the check,” prosecutors said.
Gonzales pleaded not guilty Monday to 10 felony counts, including extortion and grand theft. His bail was set at $315,000, and he faces a maximum of 13 years in prison if convicted.
Moon said Gonzales even had the audacity to text her after their disaster of a date. She can’t remember exactly what she wrote in return, but there were swear words, and probably a “How dare you?” The experience didn’t stop her from dating entirely, she said, but it did change things.
“I wouldn’t just go to dinner with someone I hadn’t met before,” the 50-year-old said. “I would meet him for maybe a drink or coffee or whatever knowing that if he walks out I could afford it.”
Moon was “flabbergasted” that the story became such huge news, and she’s glad he won’t be conning women looking for love any longer.
“People know who he is now,” she said. “He’s not going to be able to get away with his MO anymore, hopefully.”
Another victim, Diane Guilmette, told the Los Angeles CBS affiliate that her date with Gonzales, whom she met on the dating app Plenty of Fish, cost her $163. (The app is owned by The Daily Beast's parent company, IAC.)
“He ordered a lot of food. He had an appetizer. He ordered a steak. This restaurant is all a la carte. He even ordered a couple sides, a glass of wine,” she said.
At one point, he got up to take a phone call, and she never saw him again.
“When I went to message him on the app, he had blocked me. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh! Is this really happening right now?’” she said.
Tracey Noble told The Daily Beast that Gonzales left her with a $75 bill at a Cheesecake Factory in California. “He deserves to be locked up and get prison time,” she said.
Gonzales is also accused of not paying for a haircut at a Burbank salon in 2016, perhaps in an attempt to look nice for his dates.
As for Moon, she is now happily engaged to a man she met on a dating site. She hopes women learn from her experience with Gonzales, but aren’t turned off by the notion of dating entirely.
“I just hope that women don’t stop dating because of a jerk like that because there are such nice guys out there,” she said.