If you work in the hospitality industry, you’ve likely encountered ye ol’ dine-n-dash. However, you’ve likely not experienced anything on the scale of the serial offender plaguing D.C. luxury hotel bars right now. Last week, police arrested Nicholas James Cooper for allegedly ordering a $1200 glass of whiskey and dashing on the tab—and authorities said that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Cooper is accused of walking out on pricey checks at The Hay-Adams, the Ritz-Carlton, the Willard InterContinental Washington and Old Ebbitt Grill. (For those outside the Beltway, those spots are all bars frequented by the wealthy tourists, the power elite, and people with aspirations to join the former set.)
According to Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Cooper made a night of it at the Ritz on March 23. MPD reported that the suspect chowed on grilled octopus and rack of lamb paired with a $156 bottle of cabernet sauvignon for dinner and then washed it all down with a $1,200 shot of Teeling 34-year-old Irish whiskey.
When the bill arrived, Cooper tried to charge it to a hotel room said MPD. The only problem, according to authorities, is that the room he signed on the check actually belonged to NBA player Trey Lyles, a forward for the Denver Nuggets, who had just defeated the Washington Wizards earlier in the evening.
Officers were waiting for Cooper as he strolled out of the posh bar into the lobby. The arrest report noted that the suspect refused to surrender and instead put his hands in his pockets instead. The log stated that the arresting officer then tackled Cooper before apprehending him and that during the struggle, a bottle of booze fell out of the alleged thief’s pockets.
In the MPD paperwork accompanying the booking, one line added that Cooper was “known to officers for previous incidents at hotels in the area.” The comment was an understatement.
On March 13, a man rang up a $68.20 bar bill and charged it to a fake room. In a second incident that same night, a man matching the same description sent $67.91 at the Old Ebbitt Grill and tried to pay with a closed credit card. Authorities said that this man was Cooper and arrested him later on charges of theft.
Cooper was released pending trial the next morning, but it was only a couple of days before he was locked up again, this time on charges of destruction of property. Cooper allegedly shattered the doors at the Embassy Row Hotel after drunken confusing the locked lodgings for his own hotel across the street. He was then released by the court again.
On March 26, a customer matching Cooper’s description avoided paying for $500 worth of oysters and wine at the Hay-Adams according to reports. After the hotel staff discovered that the tab was charged to a vacant room, they called 911, but the officers arrived too late to nab the perp.
Then, on March 28, Cooper was arrested again by MPD for unlawful entry and violating the stay-away order. According to court docs, Cooper was violating a prohibition on the area around the Executive Office Building ordered after previous “suspicious behavior.” Once again, he was released shortly after arrest.
Photo by aaronisnotcool [CC2.0]