Bharam Akradi, CEO of Minnesota-based LifeTime Fitness, pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to a misdemeanor 5th-degree assault charge, stemming from an altercation last year with a teenage student in the parking lot of Minnetonka High School.
As part of Akradi's plea agreement, Hennepin County prosecutors agreed to dismiss a felony charge of damage to property charge.
While dropping off his daughter at the school last February, Akradi got into a heated argument with a 17-year-old boy that escalated into the assault.
The incident began when the boy sped his BMW in a threatening manner towards Akradi's Humvee, according to Akradi.
"I had a total fight or flight response," Akradi said following his sentencing. "I got out of my car, I slapped the hood of his car to get his attention. I grabbed his shirt. I tried to pull him out [of his car]. I wanted to take him back to the school principal's office."
Citing a large dent on the front of the boy's car, then-Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar charged Akradi with felony damage to property and misdemeanor assault.
"The fact that he's wealthy makes no difference to us," said Klobuchar last June, when the charges were filed. "The fact is we have witnesses and physical evidence."
Akradi contended he couldn't possibly have made the large dent in the fender of the teenager's car with his bare hands.
"The only way we could prove [Akradi's innocence]," said his attorney, Joe Friedberg, "was to go out and buy an identical BMW."
On his client's behalf, Friedberg then hired a forensics expert who conducted a series of tests designed to determine how much force human beings can generate with their fists. Volunteers smacked pendulums with their hands while technicians measured the force of those punches in "inch-pounds." A battering ram then hammered the front fender of the BMW Friedberg had purchased (with Akradi's money) with similar force.
Ultimately, the forensics expert, Donn Peterson of Peterson Engineering concluded: "The dent in the subject BMW's left front fender was not caused by Bahram Akradi using his fist or bare hand. I have no knowledge of what else did cause that dent."
Presented with that evidence, Hennepin County prosecutors agreed to drop the felony damage to property charge against Akradi. He then pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.
As part of the plea bargain, a judge gave Akradi a 90-day stayed sentenced and a stayed $1,000 fine. Akradi may also have to complete an anger management class, following a court-appointed assessment. In addition, Akradi agreed to donate $5,000 worth of exercise equipment to Minneapolis schools.
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