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Pinkberry founder Young Lee felt ‘threatened,’ attorney says

January 17, 2012 |  3:38 pm

Pinkberry co-founder felt threatened before attack
The Pinkberry co-founder accused of beating up a homeless man with a tire iron felt "at risk" and "threatened" before the assault, his attorney told The Times.

Young Lee, co-founder of the Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a June 2011 assault on a transient on a 101 Freeway off-ramp.

Police say Lee was stopped at a light when he was approached by a man seeking money. Words were exchanged, and Lee and another man in the car chased the homeless man and assaulted him with a tire iron.

"It's inappropriate for the LAPD and D.A. to make their arguments in the press," said Lee's criminal defense attorney, Philip Kent Cohen. "As the evidence comes out, the reality will be much different than has been presented."

Cohen said there were a total of six people in Lee's car. The victim "made explicit threats as if he had a weapon," Cohen said.

"All of the people in the car felt at risk and felt threatened," Cohen said. "All of this will be flushed out in court."

Cohen said that his client has cooperated with LAPD detectives from the beginning. The lawyer said Lee contacted investigators as soon as he found out that they had visited his Malibu home and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Lee was on a previously scheduled business trip to Asia and Europe at the time. Cohen said he contacted the LAPD and district attorney's office to set up a date that he could voluntarily surrender. When authorities did not agree to set a date, Lee cut short his trip and returned to Los Angeles from Italy.


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Photo: Young Lee, co-founder of Pinkberry yogurt, is facing a felony count of assaulting a transient. The location in Silverlake is photographed above. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times