SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – A man has been charged in connection to more than a dozen incidents in which he targeted the goodwill of restaurants during the current pandemic. The current coronavirus emergency has made many pizzerias and restaurants the cornerstone for food delivery. Many of the impacted pizzerias have either donated food or received calls from residents willing to pay for food to be donated to area hospitals or first responders to thank them for all they are doing. The suspect Sudeep Khetani age 34 targeted the pizzerias and restaurants where he placed large food orders over the past month. Each time he indicated he would pick it up the order or it was intended for local police. In several of the follow-up calls the pizzerias made to the phone number that placed the order, Khetani would make statements about Italians and wished they would be afflicted with the coronavirus. In total several thousand dollars have been lost by the pizzerias from the fraud in three counties. In South Brunswick, the following locations were targeted Kendall Park Pizzeria, Capriccio Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant, Pizza Delizia Restaurant, Giuseppe Pizzeria and Restaurant, and Pierre’s Deli. In addition pizzerias and restaurants in Montgomery, Plainsboro and West Windsor were victimized.
Chief Raymond Hayducka said, “It is incomprehensible that a suspect would play on the goodwill of so many during these difficult times. The suspect once placed an order saying it was coming to South Brunswick Police. We have had several residents send us food, which I appreciate tremendously, but this suspect has gone to a new low. Our businesses are all struggling and every dollar matters. I will not tolerate someone trying to take advantage of our community in these difficult days. I will pursue the strongest of charges and make sure our businesses get their money back.”
Khetani used a voice override service to mask his real phone number, but South Brunswick Detective Tim Hoover and Middlesex County Prosecutors Office Detective Ryan Tighe were able to track his true identity. They believe Khetani is currently in the Orlando, Florida area. Detectives are working with Florida authorities where Khetani is was on probation for selling fake Disney World tickets.
Detectives said Khetani is currently charged with theft, additional investigation is being conducted to determine if the crimes were bias in nature. Authorities are also looking at the series of cases as potential cyber harassment.