Baldi watch: Bel Rio owner's absence prompts media scramble

dish-baldiBel Rio owner Jim Baldi FILE PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR

Since the Hook first reported last week on the mysterious disappearance of Bel Rio owner James K. Baldi, local reporters have busily dug up new information that suggests the debonair 47-year-old freelance accountant and restaurateur’s impromptu vacation could become permanent.

It also appears that his 25-year-old traveling companion, Kristian Throckmorton, a former Bel Rio bartender, was indeed the subject of a missing persons report. While Throckmorton’s mother, Wendy Ellis, declined media comment when the story first broke July 20, a story in the Daily Progress reveals that the family filed a missing persons report, an action that appears to have launched a brief police investigation.

However, when the Hook spoke with Charlottesville City spokesperson Ric Barrick on July 27, he said that Throckmorton was no longer missing and had communicated with her family and friends. Barrick said police did not communicate with Baldi.

Ellis, an author who recently penned a book about being the wife of local pastor Lindsay Ellis entitled His Calling–My Purpose, held a reading and book-signing at Bel Rio last December. When contacted most recently, Ellis declined to comment on the missing person report or the nature of her daughter’s temporary disappearance.

The Progress also reported that Gareth Weldon, who, along with the C&O’s Dave Simpson, opened Bel Rio with Baldi in 2008, filed a $300,000 lawsuit against Baldi on July 7, accusing him of using business funds for his own purposes, withholding information on Bel Rio’s financial condition, and failing to pay an agreed-upon capital investment of $50,000 when the three-person partnership was formed. His lawyer, Daniel J. Meador Jr., tells the Hook that Baldi has until August 2 to respond to the lawsuit–- or he'll lose by default.

Baldi was evicted in February from a Downtown Mall office he leased for alleged failure to pay more than $2,200 in rent, and on March 15 a tax lien was filed against Bel Rio LLC by the Internal Revenue Service for about $13,000 in allegedly unpaid taxes, according to C-Ville Weekly, which also reports that on July 16 the state filed a $5,000 lien for taxes the state claims should have been paid from Bel Rio employee wages.

Baldi, through his company Virginia Payroll & Tax, performed financial services for several local restaurants and businesses, though Baldi was barred last August, as previously reported here, by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority from performing financial services for failing to provide information requested by the Authority.

C-Ville also suggested the FBI was investigating the elusive bookkeeper, citing a statement from a hamburger shop owner who was a former Baldi client. However, no one the Hook spoke to, including Bel Rio’s landlord Jeff Easter–- who might have been a first stop in any high-level legal investigation–- would confirm any contact by federal law enforcement; and FBI spokesperson Dee Rybiski told the Hook the same thing she told C-Ville, that it was against FBI policy to confirm or deny the existence of a case.

news-throckmortonKristian Throckmorton has been found. FACEBOOK PHOTO

Landlord Easter was, however, contacted by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents, who, according to area ABC spokesperson Roger Stevens, were responding to complaints from neighbors about noise at Bel Rio. Stevens says that Easter, along with L7 owner Lex Gibson, who recently purchased the assets of the Elliewood Avenue restaurant formerly owned by Baldi, “voluntarily” handed over the liquor licenses that were in Baldi’s name. However, Easter told the Hook that agents told him that Bel Rio’s license was being suspended for “inactivity” and asked that it be surrendered. Unprompted, the ABC's Stevens said he couldn’t comment on any “pending investigation.”

Meanwhile, Baldi's sudden departure will likely continue to bring more scrutiny of the ex-restaurateur’s business dealings. And while Barrick confirms that City police are not currently investigating Baldi (though he says the Commissioner of Revenue has submitted a warrant for alleged failure to pay meals tax), County spokesperson Lee Catlin, when asked if County police were looking into Baldi's activities, was uncharacteristically less forthcoming, providing "no comment" on any pending investigation.

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


here you go from the DP:

"The Albemarle County Police Department has obtained a felony embezzlement warrant for Bel Rio owner Jim Baldi, a Charlottesville resident who shut his restaurant’s doors earlier this month and has not been seen or heard from in weeks.

According to authorities, the 46-year-old is accused of embezzling money from WK Foods and Proffitt Management."

Seems newsworthy now!

Agreed. The Cville article quoted someone as saying that he was keeping the books for as many as 50 restaurants in town while running Bel Rio full time. He certainly was "keeping" their books, but not in a way that the proprietors would want. He did this with Cafe Cubano and Oxo. Who else will come forward? Newsworthy indeed!

WTF ! First the "HOOK" reports bad feelings and poor business practices at a hair salon !Now this Del Rio thing.Man aren't there more NEWS worthy thing in "Shan ra la" that they can report .Like who sleeping with say some politicians wife, are priest in C Ville pedophiles, do the cops run over aids patients in wheel chairs .You get "NEWS WORTHY" stuff .OH BY THE WAY I HEARD AT THE "MALL" THAT THE WHOLE CITY CONSEL WENT SKINNY DIPPING AT THE RESIVOUR TO CHECK ON THE SILT BUILD UP????!!!!

To the musician comment - just because people defended their interest in playing music doesn't make them 'supposed' musicians and it also doesn't mean they knew this dude was so mind-blowingly f'd. I wasn't one of them but they shouldn't get thrown under the bus for no reason.

These days, during a recession, restaurants all over America are going out of business. This kind of thing is actually commonplace, in a way.

This certainly is news, and hopefully, may dissuade others from neglecting their responsibilities.

Sounds to me like he enjoyed the idea of things and the lifestyle that goes with it, but didn't like to concern himself with details. Hence, all the unpaid monies and not providing details so he winds up getting barred and renegging on agreements, etc.

Somehow, it is refreshing to know that the Hook is really a local gossip rag that almost everyone reads!! Knowing your limitations is a great virtue, and not to be sniffed down upon. I would like to see the Hook engage the non-mall citizens by publishing a weekly column on local real estate transactions, much like the Washington Times does with Chris Sicks. Most readers on the mall, aside from being too cheap to buy a Daily Progress or a Wash Post, or News Leader, snap up the freebie real estate magazines. Most are looking to settle here anyway. Why not give them really something to look at in the Hook. Win-win, no?

Gasbag...of course we do! Better entertainment here on the Hook than Reality Television.....sad isn't it? Such small lives we have to look toward others misery and misfortunes to make ourselves feel better. Guess it could be said that we all need to get real lives! :)

Come on, keep up with the gossip. Get some comment from Realtor Roger Voisnet on exactly what Baldi's house for sale at 900 Eliott Avenue looks like inside and out. Middle of Belmont, listed for $250k, dropped to $189k, and hasn't sold. What's the dish on that, gossip rag?

It's been awhile...
People have pricked up their ears about Baldi's Belmont crib purchased for $90K 10 years ago and now on the market for $189K with "Coach" Voisinet. I'd lay good odds that house is "heloced" to the max and it's likely its equity has gone where Mr. Baldi has. So anyone obtaining a default judgment against him in court is likely to find out what half of nothing really means...

If I had more free time in daylight, I'd go on down to the courthouse where the deed books are kept and see if I'm right....

I agree with Paper Tiger that actually all news is form gossip. So lets enjoy the news now...

I used to work at Bel Rio, and I was never happy with how things were ran. I am underage as far as drinking goes and I never had a problem getting drinks when ever I wanted. This just showed me that Jim was not a good boss, him being the one who handed me the drinks for the most part. I think Jim will be getting what has been coming to him for a long time now. Sad but true.


I think what you're missing, freida is that "this is not news" actually means "something I'm not personally interested in so no one else should ever spend any time thinking about it, much less writing about it."

Reality television is quite entertaining. My favorite show lately is Deadliest Catch. It's the most dangerous profession in the world. When they leave Dutch Harbor, they truly have no idea if they will ever see their families again or not. Looking at their misery and misfortunes doesn't make me feel better. But, yes, I have a small life when compared to what those guys have to go through to make a living!

People wished Bel Rio would go away. Jim Baldi granted their wish. He went out in style though, took a very pretty young lady with him! This is better than Reality television! :)

OK folks,

This, THIS is the person all those supposed musicians were defending, and a number of supposedly friendly patrons. This was supposed to be the best thing going in town for music yada yada.

What was it Mayor Norris said in a meeting? " Let Bel Rio be Bel Rio?

Really? This is the type of business mentality we want to subsidize and allow to torture neighbors in their homes every night? We want to spend lots of money on police officers to monitor this sort of thing?

All those tax dollars supposedly being raised? Sounds like those were missing too...

Wait, someone wants a publication to be more like the Washington Times? Well, if Hawes can find a cult leader willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars to promote some ideology, then I'm sure that he'll be happy to sell out and cash a huge check.

Drove by yesterday and all the signage had been removed. I saw what appeared to be Mr. Easter in the process of of what I took to be showing the property to some people.

Can't wait for the "rest of the story" to emerge once Mr. Baldi returns to "face justice". In a perverse way I sort of wish him the best in getting away with enough of a grub-stake to start a new life elsewhere. In a similar perverse way I hope the City Govt. learns something about stepping up to the plate and fulfilling its basic obligations to its citizens. By basic obligations I mean getting down to the issue of enforcing standards of basic civility rather than having police cruise around in air conditioned cars basically just policing other cars.
At present people appear free to engage in all manner of uncivil conduct, to make noise, to make a mess, to engage in acts of petty larceny, to harass others, etc, and there is no monitoring of this sort of thing whatsoever. The City Govt. stood by idly for 2 years letting this man rub its nose (and that of Belmont residents) in the ordure he created with his "restaurant" and now it's sort of funny as the information about the underlying corruption emerges.

You have become the free version of The National Inquirer... This is ridiculous.

How is this not newsworthy??! Business owner runs a business that fails to respect its neighbors and makes out likes he has been victimized by over-zealous city officials. Business owner defrauds two business partners, converts money for personal use, fails to provide financials requested by partners. Business owner runs a simple business into the ground (how many other restaurants are failing in hot Belmont?) through mis-management, and then violates City, state and federal law by failing to pay employee witholding, sales and probably other yet-to-be determined taxes, despite deriving revenue from said business. Business owner then leaves a bold lie of a flyer on the front door of the business about being closed for supposed "kitchen renovations" that were never undertaken and then flees town with an employee. What is not news about this? The rest of us don't act this way. We're here, reading it, and I'm fascinated because I always thought the guy was shady anyway. Keep up the good work, Dave.

This is news because there is another missing blond girl involved.

freelove freida Get a new battery for your pocket rocket and "CHILL"

This is news, because it is the continuation of the noise ordinance fight between bel rio, their neighbors and the city. Baldi made sure he was a presense around the city, and skipped town with an employee. An employee that had not been heard from and was reported missing by her family. How is this not news?

Logan, it sounds to me like a lot more was going on than just Baldi being a public nuisance. But none of it is really all that surprising. Those that struggle in a business operations are the first to cry about how they are victims, or that they are being 'put' out of business by the rules.

No, they just can't run a business is what it usually boils down to.

Stop protecting them against the interests of other property owners who care for their property and make the neighborhood work.

Oh, the Hook is great. it provides a vicarious life, a parallel universe where we can don "Nomes de Plume" identities and exchange quips,jibes, and insults with "strangers" who might actually be friends, co-workers, maybe even lovers or spouses. We can all pretend we're Clark Kent and Lois Lane. And meanwhile we have the Forum God in the unlikely persona of Hawes Spencer to delete our comments when we get too froggy...
And Besides, how much real news happens in a provincial backwater like this? Aside from the occasional major crime, blizzard, or thunderstorm, there's not much to entertain us except indulging in salacious local gossip, which we all love anyhow and it makes it just like General Hospital or "Days of our Lives".

But for those who want juice on the local real estate world, I enclose the following link

For those who think The Hook is too low-brow and tabloid, hey this town has bookstores for you and I say to The Hook to keep the flow of community interest stories coming.

All news is a form of gossip. It varies in its detail and proximity or importance to its viewer/reader. News/Gossip can be funny, sad, uninteresting, enlightening or lies.
Even sports and weather reports can be taken as gossip containing, facts and opinions much of it can be uninteresting and mundane to most people.

As for him living on Elliott Ave ......first he never cleaned the side of the alley that was supposted to be his until the for sale sign was applied to the outside. Then the debris was piled on top of the fire hydrant. (some of it). When it snowed IF he shoveled his sidewalk he threw the snow in the street which we all know is a no no. It appeared he thought he was above reproach and didn't have to follow the same rules the rest of his neighbors did.
A neighbor


"I wasn’t one of them but they shouldn’t get thrown under the bus for no reason."

The musicians were only too happy to throw the negatively impacted residents under the bus when they spoke up about the excessively loud music, vandalism, and other illegal activities. Seeing as many of the problem activities were going on when the musicians were there, it's hard to believe they were unaware of what was going on as they were 'playing' when it was happening.

They would also have to be incredibly myopic/narcissistic to be completely unaware of some of the Baldi's other activities, as this was already hinted at over the last several months in the food community, including those establishments they play in.

I bet on both based on some of the ugly comments they made about the residents, and how they belittled them. It boiled down to 'buy a $90 head set to block the noise and shut up.'

No doubt some of those who played at Bel Rio were good and sincere. But setting up some over cranked amps and smacking the head of a snare drum or banging a few chords does not a musician make.

Everybody who defended this joint and spat on the residents deserves to eat a LOT of crow, and in my opinion, apologize for not listening.

I'm not sure the Albemarle Police Department issuing a warrant is newsworthy. It won't be the first mistake they have made in rushing to issue felony warrants against somebody. And it doesn't take much to get a rubber stamp from a Magistrate nowadays.

Man, I was having a pretty good morning until Idon'tknowanything gave me that visual of the city council skinny dipping. Geeeeeeez.

A weekly most hated -- yet everybody seems to read it.

They even go online to read it so they can make comments.