Update 1/17 4:15 p.m. Pinkberry's Senior Vice President of Marketing and Design Laura Jakobsen responded to the Young Lee arrest with this statement that firmly distances the co-founder from the company's current operations.
Mr. Young Lee has no involvement with Pinkberry, our partners or our more than 170 stores world-wide. Pinkberry ended its ties with Mr. Lee formally on May 1, 2010. He has no influence or input into the company in any way, and the parties have not been in communication with one another since Mr. Lee's exit. While it would be inappropriate for us to speculate on the allegations in question, we can say without hesitation that Pinkberry values the communities we serve and stands against acts of violence of any kind, especially those involving the most vulnerable among us.
Dennis Romero has updated his coverage with further details of the alleged beating from the L.A.P.D. and the D.A.'s office, including what may have triggered it in in the first place.
The original story, published today at 9:38 a.m. is below:
Young Lee, a co-founder of the Pinkberry frozen yogurt empire, was arrested last night at LAX and booked for assault with a deadly weapon. The Weekly's Dennis Romero reported last night that the charge stems from a June 2011 incident in downtown L.A. where Lee is accused of chasing down a homeless man and beating him with a tire iron.
The LAX Fugitive Task Force, a joint force of police and federal law enforcement agencies, nabbed Lee, 47, as he arrived at the airport from South Korea.
The LA Times' Andrew Blankstein reports, “Young Lee was stopped at a light when he was approached by a transient seeking money, police said.
Words were exchanged, and Lee and another man in the car chased the homeless man and 'beat him down' with the tire iron, police Capt. Paul Vernon said.”
Lee's arrest comes at a time when violent crimes against homeless victims are in the news. A suspect in the month-long serial killing spree of four homeless men in Orange County was taken into custody last week after being chased by bystanders that allegedly witnessed the latest stabbing death.
In addition to battling his assault charge in court, Lee, a former kick-boxer, will battle local public opinion of violence against the homeless. Though Lee is not listed as a company executive on the Pinkberry website, we'll be watching for the way the company's PR people handle this incident.
Shuji Sakai writes about breaking food news. Follow him on Twitter and professorsalt.com.