Former Mexican restaurant GM in Bell accused of embezzling thousands using workers' identities

It was really, really tough times," said the co-owner of La Casita Mexicana Restaurant.

Jessica De Nova Image
Friday, March 15, 2024
Former Mexican restaurant GM in Bell accused of embezzlement
The former general manger at La Casita Mexicana Restaurant in Bell, who was trusted with payroll, would allegedly use the identities of 16 employees to write two checks in the same amount - one for the worker and one for himself.

BELL, Calif. (KABC) -- The co-owner and chef of La Casita Mexicana Restaurant in Bell said his lifelong dream was nearly shattered after his former general manager allegedly stole tens of thousands of dollars from him.

Jaime Martin Del Campo said on top of dealing with the losses brought on by the 2020 pandemic, Jorge Alberto Bejarano Pelayo stole from him.

"Put us almost out of business. It was really, really tough times," he said.

Martin Del Campo said the employee of nearly 12 years, trusted with payroll, repeatedly used the identities of 16 employees to write two checks in the same amount.

"He just made two checks, one for the employee and one for him," said Martin Del Campo.

One check allegedly went to the employees; the second was deposited directly to the suspect's own account.

"Once he quit, he kept doing it for eight more months," Martin Del Campo said, adding, "He was part of the family. He was like a brother for us. It hurts a lot."

Following a report to City of Bell Police Department in October 2022, detectives said the suspect embezzled about $40,000.

Det. Chris Zamora said they arrested Bejarano Pelayo on Tuesday.

"There were several victims to this case so it took a significant amount of time trying to track those victims down," the detective said. "Not all of those victims still work at La Casita Mexicana."

According to jail records, Bejarano Pelayo, who was accused of grand theft and identity theft, bonded out Thursday afternoon. Martin Del Campo said it was a lesson learned. He now knows to supervise the administrative side of his business, not just the creative.

The chef said the case was now in the hands of the judicial system.

"He needs to pay for the things that he has done. He did it, everything on purpose. He's a bad person," said Martin Del Campo.

The restaurant co-owner said he believed the suspect took more than $300,000 because of all the cash deposits the suspect made, but said those were more challenging to trace.