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Tech firm fires CEO convicted of domestic violence

SAN FRANCISCO — A wealthy Internet entrepreneur recently convicted of domestic violence has been terminated as CEO of a San Francisco startup online advertising company.

RadiumOne said in a statement that its board of directors decided Saturday night to fire CEO and Chairman Gurbaksh Chahal.

Chahal, 31, pleaded guilty earlier this month to battery and domestic violence battery, both misdemeanors, in the August 2013 beating of his girlfriend.

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee said it returned Chahal’s $20,000 donation in the wake of his conviction. RadiumOne made no mention of Chahal’s conviction when announcing his ouster late Saturday.

But Chahal said in a blog post Monday that he was fired when he told board members he wouldn’t resign.

“In that special board meeting, they asked for my resignation as Chairman & CEO, when I declined to do (it), they fired me. Even though, I only accepted this misdemeanor plea under their guidance,” Chahal wrote. “Is this what venture capitalism is about?”

A RadiumOne spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Chahal also blamed social media for becoming the “court of public opinion” in his case.

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 a man during a trip to Las Vegas, according to court documents.

The alleged attack was caught on home-surveillance footage, authorities said. Chahal initially pleaded not guilty to all charges and posted $1 million bail. He also hired former federal prosecutor Jim Lassart, who said prosecutors were blowing out of proportion an argument between Chahal and his girlfriend.

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 wouldn’t testify.

Earlier this month, a San Francisco judge ruled the surveillance video in Chahal’s home was unlawfully seized by police, despite prosecutors’ claims that they worried the video would have been erased.

After pleading guilty to the misdemeanors, Chahal was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to take domestic-violence classes without serving any jail time.

Chahal wrote in a blog post Sunday that he lost his temper but accepted full responsibility. He apologized in the blog but added, “I didn’t hit her 117 times.”

Chahal wrote Monday that he intended to be exonerated of the felonies that he thought likely would go to trial. “But, I ended up taking one for the team and accepted the DA’s proposal and settling this case,” Chahal said.

Before leading RadiumOne, Chahal founded and sold two Internet companies for nearly $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.”

RadiumOne has said Chief Operating Officer Bill Lonergan will take over as CEO.

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