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Pinkberry yogurt chain co-founder gets seven years in beating case

The Pinkberry logo is seen in Los Angeles August 13, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
The Pinkberry logo is seen in Los Angeles August 13, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A co-founder of the Pinkberry frozen yogurt chain who was convicted last year of beating a homeless man with a tire iron over a tattoo he considered disrespectful was sentenced on Friday to seven years in prison.

Young Lee, a 49-year-old South Korean kick boxer-turned-architect who parted ways with Pinkberry in 2010, was convicted in November of assault with a deadly weapon, along with special allegations that he caused great bodily injuries to his victim.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Lee was sentenced to the maximum of four years in prison for the assault, with an additional three years for the special allegations.

Lee may also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim, who suffered a broken forearm and cuts to his head in the June 2011 attack, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say Donald Bolding was panhandling at a Los Angeles freeway off-ramp when he flashed a sexually explicit tattoo on his belly at Lee, his then-fiancee and another man in the couple's Range Rover.

Lee drove away from the scene but returned a short time later, chased down the transient and beat him with a tire iron before several people intervened, Deputy District Attorney Bobby Zoumberakis said in a statement.

Lee left the country following the attack but was arrested when he returned in January 2012. Prosecutors say he threatened the man who was riding in the Range Rover to keep quiet about the incident.

Along with his former wife, entrepreneur Shelly Hwang, Lee helped start Pinkberry in 2005 and was credited with bringing a sleek, modern architecture to the company that helped attract celebrities and hipsters alike to its locations.

Pinkberry, a franchise business, spawned a number of frozen yogurt imitators.

In 2001, Lee pleaded no contest to felony possession of cocaine and a misdemeanor charge of carrying a loaded firearm and was sentenced to two days in jail and three years of probation, according to prosecutors.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Chris Reese)

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