A San Francisco judge ruled today that adtech CEO Gurbaksh Chahal violated his probation in a domestic violence case. Judge Tracie Brown ordered Chahal to surrender his passports to the court on Monday and will determine his sentence on August 12.
Chahal’s legal woes began when he was accused of attacking a woman inside his penthouse apartment in August 2013. Prosecutors said security footage from the apartment showed him hitting and kicking the woman 117 times, but a judge later ruled the video could not be played in court. Chahal struck a deal in April 2014 that allowed him to plead guilty to misdemeanor battery charges without facing any jail time. Instead, Chahal agreed to three years on probation, a year-long domestic violence rehabilitation course and 25 hours of community service.
After his guilty plea, Chahal was forced out of his position as CEO of RadiumOne. He went on to found another company, Gravity4. Scandal followed Chahal to his new company; a Gravity4 employee sued him for gender discrimination and surveillance.
Chahal’s play-nice probation stint lasted only five months. According to prosecutors, Chahal attacked another woman in his bedroom in the early morning hours of September 17, 2014. The woman told police Chahal repeatedly kicked her, then threatened to report her to immigration authorities when she talked about getting a restraining order against him. The woman, who Chahal’s lawyer has accused of being in a sham marriage with another man in order to receive a green card, fled back to South Korea and has not appeared in court during the probation revocation hearings.
The absence of the woman, who TechCrunch is not naming because she is an alleged victim of domestic violence, has created problems for the prosecution and defense alike. Assistant district attorney O’Bryan Kenney struggled to convince the judge to consider the woman’s statements to police and medical professionals as evidence. Chahal’s attorney, James Lassart, argued that the documents amounted to hearsay because the woman was not present. Lassart claimed that her absence harmed the defense as well because he could not require her to authenticate emails and text messages.
Kenney has claimed that the woman is not present because she was intimidated by Chahal and his bodyguard, Moepulou “Kapp” Alaisa. After the September 2014 incident, Chahal and Alaisa exchanged text messages about reporting the woman to immigration authorities (during the revocation hearings, Alaisa claimed he did not remember sending or receiving these messages).
But Alaisa did admit that he visited the woman at her home just hours after the alleged attack to discuss her immigration status. “I wanted to remind her what she told me [about her marriage],” Alaisa testified, adding that he was trying to protect Chahal and himself. “I did it for him and for me,” he said.
Kenney argued that Chahal should not benefit from the woman’s absence, saying that testimony from investigators and medical professionals who examined her injuries should be considered. “The defendant should not benefit from his wrongdoing, his concerted effort to prevent the witness from ever coming to a courtroom,” Kenney said.
It appears that, as the domestic violence investigation wore on, Gravity4 suffered — just as RadiumOne did during Chahal’s first case. Text messages between Chahal and his Gravity4 co-founder, Dan Grigorovici, were also used against the millionaire executive in court. Grigorovici left the company just months before the hearings began in April, according to his LinkedIn.
The hearings have dragged on over the course of the summer, with Judge Brown ultimately deciding that there was enough evidence of domestic violence in the case to revoke Chahal’s probation. Judge Brown also ruled that the surveillance video of the 2013 assault is admissible in the probation revocation hearings — so it’s possible that the footage may finally become public.
Chahal’s attorney, James Lassart, did not return a request for comment. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.