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Pinkberry Co Founder Accused in Tire Iron Beating of Homeless Man Assault

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The frozen yogurt company may have a carefree and 'happy' logo but its Pinkberry co-founder is accused of the opposite--arrested at LAX airport for felony assault, released on $60,000 bond. Young Lee faces 7 years in prison over accusations that he physically beat a homeless man with a tire iron. It all seems to do with a tattoo and respect.
Things for Pinkberry could turn very, very bad with a PR nightmare creating a battleground. The specialty yogurt franchise has a squeaky clean image, and both a clientele and pricing to match -- including locations in elite or expensive cities like Brentwood and the Beverly Center, in Los Angeles, Southern California, plus locations across the nation and across the world.
The company brand's made a fairly quick rise in less than 6 years -- since the first "shop" was opened in a West Hollywood, CA, garage by Pinkberry co-founders Lee and Shelly Hwang. And the company brand has expanded -- not just across the nation but across the world. Pinkberry stores now exist in spots like Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Canada, the UK -- and even Qatar.
It's a clientele that probably isn't too understanding of hoodlum behavior. And while company scandals including top brass like CEOs and founders will always exist, few may match the gross allegations currently facing Lee.
The Fugitive Task Force met with Pinkberry's 47-year-old Lee at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) yesterday in California, where Lee was arriving on an international flight from Korea -- and bringing the Pinkberry co-founder into custody through an arrest made on an outstanding warrant for assault with a deadly weapon. Young Lee was returning from a trip, the accused man now out of jail on $60,000 bail.
Prosecutors say Lee and another person allegedly confronted a homeless man Lee thought had been disrespectful by exposing a tat -- a sexually explicit one. The tattoo artistry reportedly included a man and woman having sex. There's no word on whether the tattoo was deliberately flashed to Lee or the person accompanying him, or simply visible. Supposedly, according to law enforcement, Young Lee interpreted the tattoo as a sign of disrespect. And the scenario LAPD poses is one that turned bad, then worse.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) believes Lee and another person parked in mid-June, roughly six months ago, on Vermont Avenue near the Hollywood Freeway off-ramp in Los Angeles. The accusation includes Lee first making the guy kneel and apologize -- before beating the guy with a metal tire iron, on the head and arm. LAPD says the homeless man was also kicked. Final damages allegedly include a broken arm and cuts to the homeless man's head. And apparently there was at least one witness capable of taking down a license plate -- or that's what prosecution says.
Apparently the Pinkberry co-founder isn't claiming he was never at the scene. Criminal defense attorney Philip Kent Cohen assures his client is innocent -- with a statement the matter will be "dealt with" in court. Philip Cohen has also stated there were six people in the car, and isn't saying much else -- except for a claim that Young Lee and a person with him were threatened by the homeless man. Sometimes less equals more. If that's the case, it's unclear as to how Lee was incapable of hitting a gas pedal and driving off, rather than face any dangerous or threatening man on foot.
It's one nasty allegation that could prove nasty for business and reputation. There's about six hundred (600) of the frozen yogurt locations across the United States and the world, the Pinkberry brand has done very well for itself in a short span -- particularly considering the rough economy that's served as a background landscape for a treat that isn't exactly inexpensive. The company has touted its service level, and customers seem to have agreed -- people readily shelling out roughly four bucks apiece or so for a topped-off, smaller size. What isn't quite as known about Pinkberry could be financially detrimental, for some in particular.
It's all in the beginning stages with arraignment still weeks off in early February -- a date when, no doubt, Lee's attorney will serve up a 'not guilty' plea. But Lee or his co-founder, or some others, may wish it was all over sooner. Regardless of what proves fact, fiction -- or somewhere in-between -- in court, the suffering may be bad. What isn't really publicized is that the Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain includes franchise locations. And franchises could suffer badly with a serious, reputation, blow involving one the most intimate players in the frozen yogurt chain's beginnings.
Becoming a part of Pinkberry isn't cheap. Franchise fees reportedly start at a minimum $45,000 and higher depending upon store location. Supposedly a Pinkberry store location can do roughly a quarter of a million dollars per month in revenue. Of course franchisees are paying for the brand. A bad blow to image probably isn't exactly a reason for business owners to set up shop. A bad enough blow to image, or related and severe financial loss because of a reputation hit, could even head down the path of a legal nightmare.
If Young Lee is found guilty, it could prove really nasty for life too: Young Lee's already got two convictions under his belt -- felony possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor pertaining to carrying of a loaded firearm, convictions roughly a decade ago in 2001. Those convictions were well before the Pinkberry brand was founded in 2005. A conviction on the current felony count of assault with a deadly weapon, along with special allegation that assault caused great bodily injury, could mean the Pinkberry co-founder faces up to seven years in California state prison.
On the upside, Young Lee's mug shot can't be as bad as any of these. Or as bad as the video.
Most or all videos have now mysteriously vanished from youtube.


Philip Kent Cohen Attorneys - Criminal Defense
100 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite #1845
Santa Monica, CA 90401
United States
Phone: 310-451-9111
34° 1' 0.426" N, 118° 30' 2.232" W
Pinkberry Corporate Office Headquarters
6310 W San Vicente Boulevard, Suite 100
Brentwood/Los Angeles, CA 90048
United States
Phone: (323) 932-6800
34° 3' 39.42" N, 118° 22' 2.4384" W
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