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Pinkberry co-founder to stand trial in alleged assault of transient

July 19, 2012 | 11:47 am

Young Lee Pinkberry
A Superior Court judge has ordered the co-founder of yogurt giant Pinkberry to stand trial in the alleged assault of a homeless man on the side of the road after the alleged victim testified that the entrepreneur struck him over and over with a tire iron.

In a preliminary hearing for Pinkberry co-founder Young Lee, the alleged victim Donald Bolding, 42, said that after a second blow, his left arm broke, dangling in front of him as he crouched to try to protect himself from his attacker. In his other hand, Bolding said, he continued clutching a cup with $14 in it from the evening’s panhandling so that he would have money to eat.

“There was a lot of blood,” Bolding said.

Prosecutors say Lee, 47, assaulted Bolding, a transient in custody with a criminal drug record, after Bolding asked Lee if he could “spare any change” on the roadside last year.

Bolding, who has been convicted of at least six drug-related felonies, testified during the preliminary hearing on Wednesday and Thursday. He described Lee as looking “at me like he was angry” prior to speeding away through a red light.

Bolding said that it was hot on the day of the incident in June 2011 as he stood on the 101 Freeway offramp at Vermont Avenue. When he pulled his red hoodie sweat shirt off, he said, the two T-shirts he was wearing underneath also slid up to reveal a sexually explicit tattoo on his stomach. Bolding said Lee mouthed something unintelligible to a female in the passenger seat and the female looked away before Lee hit the gas.

Five minutes later, Bolding said, Lee and another man who was in the backseat of a Range Rover approached him and started demanding apologies from Bolding for having shown “disrespect.”

“He wants me to get on my hands and knees and apologize to him,” Bolding said, adding that he was not sure what he was supposed to apologize for. He asked, “What are you doing?” in response.

But instead of answering, Lee allegedly administered the tire iron blows and then kicks and punches as Bolding lay crouched against a fence, Bolding testified. Only after a man and a woman approached and told Lee to stop did the beating end, Bolding said.

But Lee's attorney, Philip Kent Cohen, spent Thursday morning questioning the victim’s credibility. He pinpointed several instances in which Bolding’s testimony didn’t match his earlier statements to authorities. Bolding had originally told police that the man with Lee, but not Lee himself, administered the beating. Cohen also pointed to inconsistent statements by Bolding about whether he was putting his hoodie on or taking it off at the time of the incident.  

Bolding appeared uncomfortable during the cross-examination, answering questions ambiguously at times, meekly at others, and often appearing confused, asking that Cohen repeat his questions.  

Cohen also drew attention to a temporary restraining order obtained by a woman Bolding had dated. The woman alleged that he choked her while she was holding her baby. Bolding denied being aware of the order.

Still, Judge Terry A. Bork said there was enough evidence for the yogurt mogul to stand trial on one felony count of assault with a deadly weapon and a special allegation. During a previous stage of the preliminary hearing in May, prosecutors called an eyewitness to the stand who said he stopped his car when he saw what was happening and demanded that Lee end the assault.

The combined testimony was enough for Bork to bind Lee over for trial and set an arraignment for Aug. 2.


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-- Matt Stevens


Photo: Young Lee appears during a court hearing in January. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times