New Jersey authorities have arrested a Florida man who allegedly made a series of calls to local pizza restaurants, placing huge (fake) orders on behalf of the local police and other first responders and then using subsequent calls to scream racial epithets.
South Brunswick Police said Sudeep Khetani, 34, of Kendall Park, was arrested Tuesday after months of investigation. Khetani allegedly made hundreds of calls from Jan. 15 to April 9, ordered thousands of dollars worth of food without the intention to pick them up, and harassed employees who picked up the phone.
When charges were filed against Khetani back in April, authorities said he committed more than a dozen instances of fraud, striking pizza parlors in three New Jersey counties.
Multiple pizzerias lost thousands of dollars on giant orders placed and then never picked up or paid for, South Brunswick Police Deputy Chief James Ryan previously told NBC New York. At least one restaurant closed after losing substantial money on a fake order, Ryan added.
In multiple cases, authorities said, Khetani allegedly screamed vulgar and racist abuse at Italian employees of the restaurants, wishing the coronavirus on them and telling them to go back to Italy.
Khetani, who was on probation for selling fake tickets to Walt Disney World, evaded capture for months. He faces theft charges in New Jersey, as well as an additional Promoting Prostitution charge stemming from an unrelated 2019 incident, police said.
The alleged calls by Khetani were made when New Jersey had the second-most COVID-19 infections of any state in the United States.
The case stands in sharp contrast to the reception first responders have generally received throughout the tri-state during the pandemic, including massive outpourings of free food, public applause and offers of places to sleep and rest.