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Pinkberry co-founder due in court on charge of beating transient


A co-founder of the frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry is due in court Monday for arraignment on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly chasing down a homeless man and beating him with a tire iron.

Young Lee, 47, was arrested Jan. 16 on suspicion of the June 2011 attack in East Hollywood, which police said left the victim with a broken arm, a cut on the head as well as other injuries. Lee also faces the allegation that the assault caused great bodily injury.

Authorities believe Lee got into an argument at a freeway exit over the transient's sexually explicit tattoo. Lee, who began the hugely successful Pinkberry chain in 2005 in West Hollywood with business partner and later wife Shelly Hwang, said in a brief interview with the Los Angeles Times that the allegations were “false.”

Pinkberry said Lee, as of 2010, has not been involved in the company’s operations and that he is a "passive, inconsequential shareholder."

In 2001, Lee pleaded no contest to felony possession of cocaine and a misdemeanor firearm charge. He also was charged with misdemeanor battery of a spouse -- a woman other than Hwang -- but the charge was dropped. He was sentenced to three years’ probation at the time.

Court records also show that at least two people -- a former friend and a business competitor -- filed for restraining orders in recent years against Lee, citing threats of violence. No restraining orders were ultimately issued.

Lee’s current charge carries up to four years in prison with the possibility of an additional three years for the special allegation.


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-- Victoria Kim

Photo: Pinkberry co-founder Young Lee is shown at his Los Angeles studio in 2007. Credit: Armando Arorizo / Bloomberg News

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