US yogurt bar founder jailed for attacking beggar

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A co-founder of the Pinkberry US frozen yogurt chain was jailed for seven years on Friday for using a tire iron to attack a homeless man begging for money.

Young Lee, who is no longer connected to the strongly brand-conscious chain with branches in 19 countries, was convicted in November of assault with a deadly weapon over the June 2011 attack.

The 49-year-old lost his temper after the victim, Donald Bolding, allegedly insulted his wife by showing a sexually explicit tattoo while he was panhandling on a freeway off-ramp in Hollywood.

The trial heard blow-by-blow details about how the attack played out, after Lee got out of his car.

"Apologize. You showed disrespect," Lee said, according to Bolding's account of the attack. "I'm befuddled. I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' That's when he hits me with the tire iron," added Bolding, who described how he was hit around the head twice.

Bleeding, he ran into oncoming traffic to avoid being hit again. But he told how Lee ordered him to get on his hands and knees to apologize.

"I'm trying to cover my head because he's swinging the tire iron," he said, adding that the attack ended when other people came to help him and called police.

Lee, who co-founded Pinkberry with then-wife Shelly Hwang in 2005, had been free on bail, but was taken into custody following his conviction in November.

He ended his ties with the company in 2010. Pinkberry, which has almost 250 stores worldwide - including in Asia, Europe and the Middle East - touts its belief in "fanatical freshness" and its "exceptionally strong emotional connection with its customers." A spokeswoman for the firm declined to comment, beyond saying: "Pinkberry ended its ties with Mr Lee formally several years ago and he has no involvement with the company."