SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An Silicon Valley millionaire entrepreneur who avoided jail time for a domestic violence conviction in 2014 – and had his probation revoked following another domestic violence incident – was sentenced to a year in jail Friday after losing his appeal.
Gurbaksh Chahal, founder of online advertising companies Gravity4 and RadiumOne, sobbed while asking San Francisco Superior Court Judge Tracy Brown for leniency. Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court declined to review Brown’s 2016 ruling that Chahal had violated the probation ordered after he pleaded guilty in 2014 to misdemeanor charges of battery and domestic violence battery.
The 36-year-old was immediately remanded into custody after Brown declined to change her ruling. Chahal must serve at least six months of the one-year sentence. He has been out of custody on $250,000 bail.
Beverly Upton, Executive Director of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, was in court Friday and said she was not moved by Chahal’s plea for mercy.
“Well, I’m sure his victims begged for mercy,” said Upton. “Slapping, kicking, biting somebody? You don’t think they asked him to stop? Where was their mercy?”
The judge also noted that Chahal’s tearful statement didn’t mention his victims at all.
“He’s still not taking accountability,” said Upton. “I’m sure the victims have more tears. I have none.”
Chahal’s lawyer, famed attorney Robert Shapiro, did not offer any comment when reporters pressed him for a statement.
In a statement, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said, “Mr. Chahal sought to escape responsibility for assaulting two women, but today he learned that wealth and privilege will not shield him from consequences. Domestic violence is very serious, and we will always be here to make sure that batterers are held accountable.”
Chahal was charged with felony domestic violence in 2013 after police say he punched and kicked his girlfriend 117 times inside his San Francisco penthouse. Security camera video evidence of the attack was deemed inadmissible after a judge ruled police had obtained it without a warrant. With no video and after his girlfriend declined to cooperate with police, Chahal pleaded guilty in 2014 to two misdemeanor battery charges of domestic violence and was sentenced to three years probation.
Chahal also paid a $500 fine, saying at the time the money paid was the “equivalent of a speeding ticket” and “in no way reflects the toll that this ordeal has exacted on me.”
He was accused of violating his probation in 2016 by kicking another girlfriend in the same South Beach apartment. The woman also did not cooperate with prosecutors. His lawyers challenged her credibility by saying she got into a sham marriage to get a U.S. visa and had been drinking on the night of the dispute.
Chalal was sentenced to a year in jail for violating probation, but his sentence was stayed pending appeal. In April 2018, a state appeals court upheld the 2016 ruling and Chahal petitioned to the state Supreme Court, which declined to review the case.
For more than a decade, Chahal had been making a name for himself in the tech world before his mercurial outbursts derailed his career. He sold one company, Blue Lithium, to Yahoo for $300 million at the age of 25. He once appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” touted as a highly eligible bachelor and was often seen on magazine covers, at tech conferences and on TV shows.
Following his original guilty pleas, he was ousted from the board of RadiumOne, and founded Gravity4, another San Francisco-based ad tech company. In 2015, he was sued by two Gravity 4 employees in separate cases alleging sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Chahal stepped down as Gravity4 CEO in 2016 after his probation was revoked.