Democratic National Committee Returns $20K Donation From SF Tech CEO Convicted In Girlfriend Attack
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Democratic National Committee said Friday that it has returned $20,000 donated by a wealthy San Francisco Internet entrepreneur recently convicted for domestic violence.
The organization gave back Gurbaksh Chahal’s 2014 contribution after it discovered he pleaded guilty last week to domestic violence battery and battery, both misdemeanor charges, in connection with the alleged August 2014 beating of his girlfriend. Chahal, 31, is the CEO of the online advertising company RadiumOne.
“Mr. Chahal contributed to the DNC four months prior to this terrible incident last year,” DNC spokeswoman Rebecca Chalif said. “Domestic violence of any kind is absolutely unacceptable, and as soon as we learned of his actions, the DNC took immediate action to return all contributions from this cycle.”
The San Francisco District Attorney’s office charged Chahal with 45 felonies for allegedly punching and kicking his girlfriend more than 100 times and attempting to smother her with a pillow in his penthouse after he learned she had cheated on him with another man during a trip to Las Vegas, according to court documents.
The alleged attack was caught on home surveillance footage, authorities said. Chahal pleaded not guilty to the charges and posted $1 million bail. He also hired noted attorney and former federal prosecutor Jim Lassart, who said prosecutors were blowing an argument between Chahal and his girlfriend out of proportion.
Chahal’s girlfriend then stopped cooperating with the investigation and asked prosecutors to drop the charges, but prosecutors said they would proceed even if she would not testify.
Earlier this month, a San Francisco judge ruled that the surveillance video in Chahal’s home had been unlawfully seized by police, despite prosecutors’ claims that they worried the video would have been erased.
In addition to pleading guilty to the misdemeanors last week, Chahal was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to take domestic-violence classes and do community service.
He will not serve any jail time.
“The judge’s ruling substantially weakened the evidence we had for prosecution,” said Alex Bastian, spokesman for the district attorney’s office. “Though it is not the outcome we had hoped for, the case has reached a resolution where the defendant acknowledges guilt.”
Before leading RadiumOne, Chahal founded and sold two Internet companies for more than $300 million.
His status as a wealthy entrepreneur landed him an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” a role on Fox TV’s “Secret Millionaire” series and a mention as one of America’s most eligible bachelors on the entertainment television program “Extra.”