Tech CEO Dodges Felony Charge Despite Horrifying Abuse Video
RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh "G" Chahal pled guilty to two misdemeanors for domestic violence and battery last week. The ad-tech executive faced 45 felony charges based on security footage from his San Francisco penthouse apartment, which allegedly showed him hitting and kicking his girlfriend 117 times in half an hour.
Instead of jail time Chahal, who once shared a stage with Oprah, cut a deal for three years probation, 52 weeks in a domestic violence training program, and 25 hours of community service.
You wouldn't know this from recent RadiumOne headlines, however.
His online advertising network plans to raise $100 million from its IPO and just partnered with Condé Nast. Meanwhile Marcom, an international marketing conference that claims the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Netherlands as a partner, sent out a press release touting Chahal as a featured speaker on "dark social."
These promising career developments occurred well after Chahal's arrest in August. Business Insider has a copy of the felony complaint. At the time, the prosecution thought the video handed them an "airtight" conviction, but the San Francisco Chronicle implies that the serial entrepreneur, who sold his previous company to Yahoo for $300 million, bought his way out:
But after Chahal posted $1 million bail and hired attorney James Lassart, the case against him unraveled.
First up, the girlfriend refused to cooperate with the investigation or testify, having hired famed criminal attorney and CNN commentator Mark Geragos to represent her. (Do we hear "big-bucks settlement for not talking"? Geragos didn't return our call, and Lassart's camp is staying tight-lipped.)
But perhaps the biggest blow came when Judge Brendan Conroy ruled that surveillance video from Chahal's bedroom - which reportedly captured the 1 1/2-hour attack - had been seized unlawfully by police. The cops claim they took the video without waiting for a warrant because they feared it might get erased, but the judge didn't buy it.
SFCitizen faults the police and the judge for getting such damning evidence thrown out. Regardless of how Chahal squirmed out of 45 felony convictions, his get out of jail free card looks more like a carte blanche.
Marcom14 still lists Chahal as a speaker on their agenda. A representative for the conference told Valleywag they were "not aware of this facts [sic]" and requested more information. In addition to IAB Netherlands, one of the partners listed is FEMMEFAB, a collection of websites targeted at women.
I also reached out to RadiumOne to see if Chahal's role at the company would change in light of the guilty plea. He is listed as founder, chairman, and CEO above a lengthy bio noting his TV appearances and best-selling book on RadiumOne's website. The advertising network has yet to submit any IPO filings to the SEC.
According to the Chronicle, no felony convictions mean Chahal "will be allowed to stay on the board." Sam "Master of Disaster" Singer, told the San Francisco Business Times:
"This now allows Gurbaksh and RadiumOne to move forward with their IPO, which is further down the line," said Sam Singer, a well known public relations consultant. "It was an important conclusion to what was a difficult situation, and all sides are to be commended in the reasonable conclusion of this case."
Chahal is moving forward with gusto. Before, during, and after he pled guilty, he's been dispensing inane executive advice, such as "15 Things Leaders Never Do," like its going out of style. (Sadly, it is not.)
Search Twitter for his handle and the first thing that pops up are people quoting his platitudes—seemingly unaware of the guilty plea, probably because it was covered less than RadiumOne's plans to IPO.
"If you genuinely want something, don't wait for it -- teach yourself to be impatient." -Gurbaksh Chahal #gogetit
— Shalece Daniels (@shalece_daniels) April 22, 2014
Since Chahal is so fond of pro-tips, here's a freebie: Don't put "DIE HARD" in big, bold letters under your name when one of the dozens of charges against you was "assault with a deadly weapon" using a pillow.
An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the IAB was a Marcom14 partner. The conference website points to IAB Netherlands as a partner. An IAB representative said: "IAB Netherlands is an independently owned-and-operated licensee, and we have no insight into or authority over licensees' business relationships." Valleywag regrets the error.
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[Image via Getty]