Baldi watch: Bel Rio owner faces embezzlement charges

dish-baldi Former Bel Rio owner Jim Baldi appears to be officially on the run. FILE PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR

A pleasant homecoming for Bel Rio owner Jim Baldi appears less likely, as Albemarle County police say they have been issued a warrant for his arrest on a felony embezzlement charge. Following a July 20 story in the Hook, which delved into the circumstances surrounding Bel Rio’s sudden closure and Baldi’s disappearance, the long-time local bookkeeper, bartender, and restaurateur became the subject of a number of local news stories, including this recent one by the Newplex. According to police, Baldi, who turns 47 August 13, embezzled money from WK Foods and Proffitt Management.

According to County police spokesperson Lt. Shawn Schwertfeger, the warrant is for an alleged embezzlement that happened sometime between November 2009 and July 15 2010. Schwertfeger would not say how much money was allegedly embezzled. Anyone with information about Baldi's whereabouts should contact Detective Espinoza at 434-296-5865 or Crimestoppers at 434-977-4000.

This story is a part of the The Jim Baldi story special.

34 comments

I just read Janet Knight's post... you are soooo right with the fake checks for vendors etc... Our head bartender who had a history with Baldi at Miller's told Tom to get out of it as well. Unfortunately we lost wonderful places because of a thief. Has Fluerie or Petit Pois weighed in on the issue?

Ain't to much can put a strain on me that why can't no one put the blame on me. I rather have them dollar bills rain on me than to have them haters make a name off me. Thats why. I get it in till the sun rise. Doin ninety in a sixty five. Windows rolled down screamin I I I I'm so paid.

I was in Alaska the other day and thought I saw him over in Russia.

have they checked us customs and the border patrol?

I was the GM of Boheme and Jim Baldi was brought aboard to do payroll and Tom Fussell's (the owners) taxes. I quit a month later and Boheme closed its doors soon after. I ended up with a 1099 at the end of the year owing the feds a nice chunk of money. All of the employees were also 1099ed. We had taxes taken out of our checks all year. The owner slowly paid each of us off and eventually skipped town. I am just saying somethiing shady was going on then and probably happened at Bel Rio.

cheap italian suits...maybe Rome? but they'd spot the knockoffs there. Bel Rio...is there such a place? clearly a latin fascination..i think south american, lots of nonextradition countries there. where did they find Dr Mengele? i think somewhere with a latino culture that appreciates US money, likes phony macho, would approve of faux-silk suits, and allow use of underage women. any thoughts?

can we get an expert in here. taxes are personal, right. so if payroll taxes weren't paid isn't it employee responsibility to square with IRS and if allegations true, then seek redress from baldi in civil court if he did wrong? can someone chime in with real info...should we call the IRS and check on our status, or are we ok?

Also, forgot to address this from byebyebaldi: "question: if Kristian turns herself in and gives up Baldi, can she get immunity to avoid a long prison sentence and also collect a cash reward?"

You're assuming she not only knows about all these alleged charges, but that she's been in on it the whole time. Nothing indicates that she took part in his alleged shenanigans. She's just the chick friend or girlfriend hanging around with him. How does someone get a "long term prison sentence" for that? Even some rapists and child molesters don't get a "long term prison sentence."

When the story came out that he had disappeared and no one knew his whereabouts and the restaurant was closed, my thought was "no doubt he's taken off with someone else's money." Not the first time this has happened around here. Back in the 70s and 80s there were a number of attorneys caught embezzling client's funds.
To take off like he did of course it would arouse suspicion! And the fact that he was already a controversial and in some quarters disliked individual only exacerbated the matter.
I feel sympathy for his victims, the ones who trusted him with their financial affairs, not all for him if he is in fact guilty.
But you must admit his actions don't make him look good.

@ Gasbag - "Welcome to 2010! Where EVERY criminal suspect is tried in the media and is guilty as sin until they prove their innocence in a court of law."

Indeed. It's the way it's always been, from witch hunts to lynch mobs. The "mob mentality." Only now we have the media to add to the mix. It runs rampant on the 'net. NBC29 runs a story about some guy accused of something or other, and people are over there just automatically believing it all with no personal proof for themselves, no trial, nothing, and calling for the guy to be shot or locked up. For me, I always try to reserve my judgment. Anybody who does otherwise is dim, and they'd surely be singing a different tune were they the ones being publically accused of something only to find the 'net lynch mob coming after them.....

@Byebyebaldi

The employees are fine as long as the taxes were deducted from their gross pay and they received a net check. Here's a link to more info:

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/personal-finance/personal-taxes/PFI_IVT/...

@ED: He ought to come back and defend himself, no?

I can't find my piggy bank! Baaaaldiiiii!

Ruh row shaggy sounds like a job for the mystery machine!

No more noise in Belmont?

Jose Canseco just sniiitchin because he fiiiiinissshed.

Gasbag, have you ever thought about becoming a PI to track down people like Baldi if requested by family members or such?

didn't consider that. she probably thinks she really is on vacation and that the alleged false identities are just part of a fun getaway game. i've heard she isn't bright, but doubt she could be that dense.

I bet he's locked on to some hot tail in mexico.

update on c-ville website.

has The Hook considered asking Realtor Voisinet to allow an On The Block piece on Baldi's house? It'd be like Lifestyles of Rich and Famous, or when Geraldo opened Capone's secret bank-safe.

Baldi and I were co-workers about twelve years ago, and I always found him to be an exceptionally kind and honest person.

It'll all be blamed on his "illness," and he'll be found in a rehab.

Well *that* just took a sudden crazy turn, didn't it?

Snitch didn't have or release any information that wasn't already well known by Baldi's former employees and the cop shoppes.

so the allegations seem to suggest that he has been doing all of this since 2008. that would mean any restaurant or business he did the books for probably owes three years of unpaid taxes and other monies. and since payroll was a big part of his accounting, that would mean any employee of his directly, or any employee of any of his 50 clients, probably owes back taxes too, and would be open to personal audit. It would mean he probably hasn't filed personal income tax either for a while. so there could be hundreds of individuals who suddenly are to get huge IRS bills, right?

on the bright side, i guess former bel rio staff can collect Unemployment.

has anyone got a warrant to search his house and hers? there must be computers with travelocity ticket orders and trash cans full of receipts from fake identity purveyors, things mailed to a blind PO box in the fake identity names and so on. and one story reported that the woman with him had telephoned family and friends, so those calls can be traced right?

this shouldn't take long once federal warrants go out.

question: if Kristian turns herself in and gives up Baldi, can she get immunity to avoid a long prison sentence and also collect a cash reward?

Tim, no. It would be too frustrating. I go out and find somebody, then the media headlines would read, "Albemalre Police arrest Baldi!" Kinda like our recent 12 year serial rapist, a victim finally spots him and the headlines read, "Charlottesville Police finally find and arrest the serial rapist!" :)

bet more charges are coming from his other customers

Maybe he's in jungle survival mode, and will turn up again in 6 weeks looking like Wild Mountain Man   la Michael Comer.

There's probably better than a 90% chance Kristian has no idea what Baldi has been up to.... even if he has been doing anything illegal. The man is not guilty of a single thing until a conviction is handed down.

Welcome to 2010! Where EVERY criminal suspect is tried in the media and is guilty as sin until they prove their innocence in a court of law.

@byebyebaldi. I don't think the employees would owe back taxes because taxes were regularly taken out of their pay checks. It is not the fault of the employee if he took the money out and never paid it to the IRS. As for Jim, sure the courts will decide his guilt, but I wish he would man up, come back to town and face the charges laid against him. This whole situation is ridiculous.

I had contact with Jim Baldi during my tenure at Mono Loco. He was our accountant. I can say that he was not always open and honest in what he said needed to be done to pay taxes.
And.....after I resigned from my position, with 3 weeks notice, he accused me of endangering the business by not paying taxes, which it was not possible to do, as he gave me "fake" checks that the bank would not accept. The man was on a roll at that point, 2002, as a Restaurant Expert, so no one listened to me. I feel a bit vindicated today.

I heard on the street yesterday that my man got away with like two mill. I've yet to hear an update here but the streets sure are talkin! Play on playa!