Skip to Content
Crime

Manager at La Casita Mexicana Suspected of Embezzling More Than $300,000 Over 12 Years

"When you own a restaurant, it's easy to lose yourself in perfecting a new dish or making sure a recipe is done correctly every single day, but this taught us that you have to be just as meticulous, if not more, about the administrative side as well," Jaime Martin Del Campo, co-owner of La Casita Mexicana tells L.A. TACO. "He was like family to us."

12:35 PM PDT on March 21, 2024

    Chefs Jaime y Ramiro

    Jorge A. Bejarano, the former manager of one of L.A.'s most beloved Mexican restaurants, La Casita Mexicana in the City of Bell, was arrested last week. Bejarano is now facing 17 charges, ranging from the identity thefts of 16 people to the alleged embezzling of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    "It was a lesson learned the hard way on how just one employee can almost break an entire business," Martin del Campo tells L.A. TACO over the phone.

    The restaurant just celebrated its 25th year of business in southeast Los Angeles. It was one of the first Mexican restaurants in the country to offer regional Mexican dishes, including chilaquiles divorciados for brunch, Jalisco-style beef shanks in adobo for lunch, fish roasted in corn husks for dinner, and caramel-stuffed churros for dessert.

    La Casita Mexicana
    La Casita Mexicana. Photo via Google Street View.

    Del Campo tells L.A. TACO that he and Ramiro Arvizu, his business partner and the restaurant's co-owner, found out about the theft after they congratulated one of their employees for starting a bank account and getting direct deposit.

    The employee then revealed that he had no bank account.

    Del Campo believes Bejarano stole Arvizu's password and was cutting himself a check every time another employee at the restaurant was paid.

    "He was very sneaky about it, doing most of it in the middle of the night and making it look as if nothing happened the following morning," he says. "It shocked us because he was like family to us."

    Bejerano left his position in La Casita Mexicana in November 2021 to open his own Mexican restaurant in Van Nuys, named Xochipilli Taco Bar. However, Del Campo strongly believes he kept embezzling money until the following year, even after he was no longer employed at La Casita Mexicana.

    "When you own a restaurant, it's easy to lose yourself in perfecting a new dish or making sure a recipe is done correctly every single day, but this taught us that you have to be just as meticulous, if not more, about the administrative side as well," Del Campo says.

    Bejarano is also believed to have embezzled money at Del Campo and Arvizu's now-closed Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza restaurant, Mexicano. The final amount has yet to be investigated, but both Arvizu and Del Campo suspect it is well north of $300,000 considering the theft went on for so long.

    The City of Bell Police Department released a statement on March 14th, 2024, announcing Bejarano's arrest:

    "The City of Bell Police Department announces the successful culmination of a yearlong investigation into a grand theft and identity theft crime perpetrated against La Casita Mexicana restaurant. The investigation focused on a former employee entrusted with payroll responsibilities who allegedly embezzled thousands of dollars using the identities of current and former employees."

    The case has been submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office for filing considerations. "The legal fees for this have been crazy, but we pursued it and are publicizing this because we want our fellow hospitality community to be extra careful with whom they trust, especially those who you think have your back," says Del Campo.

    Univision has also covered this case.

    Stay in touch

    Sign up for our free newsletter

    More from L.A. TACO

    Juárez-Style Burritos Have Arrived in Southern California, And They are Already Selling Out In Less than An Hour

    The month-old strip mall taquería in Anaheim make all their flour tortillas from scratch using both lard and butter, resulting in an extremely tender vehicle for their juicy guisados like carne en su jugo, carne deshebrada, chile colorado, chile relleno, and chicharrón. Every tortilla is cooked to order, too.

    April 23, 2024

    Urgent: L.A. TACO Falling Short of Fundraising Goals and Needs Your Support

    Emergency. This is not a test. This is not a ruse. This is not a marketing scheme. We need your support if we're going to make it and every single membership counts.

    April 23, 2024

    The 11 Best Backyard Restaurants in Los Angeles

    Despite many requests to publish this guide, L.A. TACO has been somewhat protective of these gems to not "burn out the spots." However, we wanted to share it with our small, loyal pool of paid members, as we appreciate your support (and know you to be okay, non-NARCs). Please enjoy responsibly and keep these 'hood secrets...secrets.

    April 18, 2024

    Here’s What an L.A. TACO Membership Gets You and Why You Should Support Local Journalism

    With more than 30 members-only perks at the best L.A. restaurants, breweries, and dispensaries waiting to be unlocked, the L.A. TACO membership pays for itself!

    April 17, 2024
    See all posts