Gurbaksh Chahal (pictured) has a major beef with San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. It all started somewhere around the time Chahal, then the 31-year-old CEO of digital advertising firm RadiumOne, worth over $100 million, and the kind of guy Barack Obama allows himself to be photographed with, was videotaped in his Rincon Hill apartment beating the shit out of his romantic partner in 2013.
According to video evidence seized by police, Chahal hit his partner 117 times in a half-hour span. Gascón charged Chahal with 47 felonies, but a judge later ruled that police had unlawfully seized the key video evidence and it was ruled inadmissible. So Chahal skated by pleading guilty to two misdemeanor counts of battery and three years' probation. (He also allegedly secured the services of former Mayor Willie Brown to make this all “go away” — and it did, so there's that.)
Chahal's not out of the woods yet. Last year, a woman who alleges Chahal kicked her at a South Korean hotel came forward, leading Gascón to seek a revocation of Chahal's probation, which could mean jail time. A hearing in that matter, originally scheduled for last fall, has been delayed twice, most recently to April 22.
So was it coincidence that just about a month before Chahal's hearing, a Facebook page and Twitter account with a sizable paid following appeared and begin to accuse Gascón — a Cuban-American who is hitting the SFPD hard on racial bias — of racism, of all things? Maybe not. There are strong similarities between Chahal's online habits and those of George Gascon is a Racist, as photojournalist Steve Rhodes first noticed, and given Chahal's penchant for social media and proven history massaging online messaging, he's the chief suspect.
Above you will see two Facebook posts. The first is Chahal's, from just a few nights ago, the second is one of the first posts from the “George Gascon is a Racist” Facebook page — which sprouted from the internet a few weeks after Gascón's other known enemy, the Police Officers Association, published sworn declarations accusing Gascón of slinging racial epithets during a wine-fueled dinner in Massachusetts in 2011.
Recall that the anti-Gascón page appeared late last month and immediately garnered about 100,000 followers on social media; many of the followers appear to be the ones — very few followers, mostly overseas — that are for sale.
The two pages behave in similar ways. Both Chahal and the anti-Gascón page exhort followers to phone Gascon's office and to sign a Change.org petition.
Accusing Gascón of racism is key for Chahal. Accusations of same are all over his Facebook page.
But the two also appear to type similarly.
Look at the below, and specifically items 3 and 10. Note the placement of commas.
Now see this post from Chahal. And again, note the commas — specifically how they precede conjunctions.
Chahal: “Thank you to whoever, that created this Change.org petition.”
George Gascon is a Racist: “I would rather be more famous, than do my job.”
Chahal may also be employing astroturfing in the same way the Gascón page is purchasing followers.
A few days ago, a post appeared on Medium from a user with very little activity other than a lengthy hagiography praising Chahal and lambasting Gascón as a racist (and the San Francisco media as yellow journalists.)
The Medium post was almost immediately seized upon… by Chahal.
Whoever wrote the Medium post has, among other things, a stupendously detailed knowledge of Gurkbash Chahal's doings and whereabouts — during key events that have led to lawsuits filed against Gurkbash Chahal and his companies, including his most recent effort, Gravity4.
The author of the Medium post and Chahal also have two other enemies in common: local attorney Harmeet Dhillon and Forbes reporter Ellen Huet.
Chahal had a spat with the women in September.
And this is brought up in the Medium post.
This is all circumstantial evidence, of course, and would be laughed out of a courtroom.
Still, there are enough similarities — common enemies, common themes, common posting habits, and intimate knowledge of Chahal's whereabouts and activities — to raise the issue.
And there's nobody on the internet with the resources necessary to assemble a Facebook page with the same motive as Chahal.
In a Facebook message, Chahal neither confirmed nor denied his involvement. “I'm sorry I don't talk to the press,” he wrote. “But, you can talk to my attorney of record, Jim Lassart, with any questions.”
Lassart did not return a call seeking comment on Monday.
Gascón's people declined to comment to SF Weekly on the entire affair. Meanwhile, the still-mysterious moderators of the Gascón Facebook page denied any affiliation to Chahal.
“Whatever issue Chalal [sic] is separate from ours, but we did look at his page and am [sic] glad others are now joining the effort,” the moderator(s) wrote.
Meanwhile, the Gascón page is doubling down — after publishing some accusations and internal leaks from the DA's office, some of which could be found in court documents, the page is offering $10,000 to anyone who provides dirt on Gascon.
That would be pocket change for a guy like Chahal, who has both the means and the motive.
“He has a real stick up his ass [about Gascón],” says Sam Singer, the disaster PR consultant formerly hired by Chahal to clean up some of the mess (they have since parted ways). “He wants to blame the D.A., but his troubles are his own making. And he’s complained bitterly about him in the past.”