Jim Baldi, arrested on January 4 in San Francisco, is awaiting extradition to Charlottesville to face embezzlement charges.
Jim Baldi at Pachino Trattoria & Pizzeria in San Francisco, where he was working under a false name.
trip advsor photo
Local restaurateur and accountant Jim Baldi's disappearance in July 2010 came to an abrupt end with his January 4 arrest in San Francisco on embezzlement charges stemming from past business dealings in Charlottesville, but the details about his life on the lam are just emerging.
According to multiple sources, Baldi, the former owner of Bel Rio restaurant in Belmont, had been working as manager during the time of his arrest at a place called Pachino Trattoria & Pizzeria on Kearny Street, a classic "hole-in-the-wall" place in the outskirts of San Francisco's Chinatown. One source, who offered information to the Hook on condition of anonymity, says he'd grown his hair long and told people he was of Italian and Vietnamese descent.
What's more, multiple sources claim that Baldi was using the alias Dario DiSovana and was not alone as he launched his West Coast life.
Kristian Throckmorton, the now 27-year-old woman who originally fled with Baldi–-but who returned a few weeks later, according to her family at the time–-was still with him, the San Francisco source claims, and working at the same restaurant. In fact, the source alleges that the couple were living as man and wife with forged green cards from Canada.
"They both wore rings, operated under the same last name, and introduced themselves as married," the source reveals in an email. Another source who met Baldi in California confirms that the woman who he presented as his wife went by the name Eliana DiSovana and also worked at the restaurant until Baldi's recent arrest.
According to various and glowing online customer reviews of the restaurant, "Dario" was known for his attentive service and expert recommendations, and a photo posted along with one review clearly shows Baldi, wearing a blue shirt and black pants, making his way past tables inside a high ceilinged space with mosaic-covered ductwork up one wall.
"An Italian-accented gentleman named Dario is often the sole waiter in the small place (maybe 8 tables total), and he will treat you like family," writes one Yelp.com reviewer.
"Dario...was awesome, providing great service, spot on reco's, and genuine heart-felt hospitality," writes another reviewer on TripAdvisor.com.
Police are not releasing any details surrounding Baldi's arrest, but Albemarle County Police Sgt. Darrell Byers says "there were no outstanding warrants related to [Thockmorton]. Her location
regarding Baldi's arrest is immaterial.
"I feel confident in saying that she is not a missing person from the County," Byers adds.
However, on Throckmorton's Facebook wall there are messages from friends and family members, posted during the recent holidays, saying, "I hope and pray you are safe and sound," and "We all miss you and love you wherever you are." There are no responses from Throckmorton.
Attempts to reach Throckmorton and her family members were unsuccessful.
Our source in San Francisco admits that she'd known Baldi for some time, and was "flabbergasted" by the news that he was living there under a false identity and facing embezzlement charges in Charlottesville.
"He was extremely hardworking and well-liked," says the source.
Indeed, the source reports Baldi worked 14-hour days, and she believes the restaurant was doing well as a direct result of his commitment.
A woman answering the phone at the restaurant identified herself as manager and declined comment, other than to express sadness and surprise at the turn of events.
She wasn't the only one shocked.
"It was a surprise because I knew him for almost two years and he was charming, hardworking, in plain sight, very Euro," says the source. "So for me, it was like, why was he working and not on a beach somewhere?"
Indeed, that's the scenario that Charlottesville resident Olivia Branch imagined. Branch, who first met Baldi when he was a bartender at Rapture in the late 1990s, says it's hard to reconcile the "nice guy" she knew with the pain he's allegedly inflicted.
However, as previously reported in this paper, Baldi's disappearance left his former accounting clients angry, and a slew of unanswered questions.
When he disappeared, Branch assumed he had fled the country and was living off the allegedly stolen loot.
One reason Baldi may have decided not to leave the country was that his father, Albert Baldi, had been ill for a long time and finally passed away a few days before Christmas. According to an online obituary, Albert died "with his family by his side." His family, according to the obituary, includes his wife Judith, his two surviving children, Baldi and his sister Kathleen, and five grandchildren. Attempts to reach Baldi's two children, who are now over 18, were unsuccessful. A message left at a number listed for Baldi's mother in Maine was unreturned at presstime.
The San Francisco source says, in hindsight, there were holes in Baldi's story.
"He told everyone completely different things about where he was from, who his parents were, and on and on, mixed in with truth," she says.
According to Hook legal analyst David Heilberg, going on the run and adopting a fake identity are things that are not going to help Baldi's case when, and if, he returns to Charlottesville to face the charges against him. Baldi will likely be extradited to Charlottesville, given the fact that it is more difficult to fight extradition when you've fled, but it could take as long as six months, says Heilberg.
When Baldi does finally end up in court, Heilberg says, the amount of trouble he could be in would be proportional to the amount of money he allegedly took, the degree to which he violated his clients' trust, and his willingness to work out a plan to pay his alleged victims back.
"Embezzlers are punished more harshly than vanilla larcenists," says Heilberg, "because fraud and deception is involved. The worse the breach of trust, the more time he will serve."