Bill Gross Offers Olive Branch in Yearlong Neighbor Feud
(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Bill Gross offered a concession in an effort to end a yearlong feud with his Southern California neighbor Mark Towfiq, saying he’d be willing to remove some of the eight outdoor speakers at his oceanfront home to reduce the volume level.
Gross testified Tuesday at his trial in Santa Ana where Towfiq is asking a judge to find the co-founder of PIMCO in contempt for violating a court order that requires Gross and his wife to keep the music volume below 60 decibels and not to disturb the peace of their neighbors. The Grosses face potential jail time if found guilty.
Towfiq claims the Grosses played the music too loudly July 7 while in their pool. Gross’s neighbor called the police, but officers only shouted at the Grosses to turn the music down and stop disturbing their neighbor’s peace. They didn’t issue a citation, but told Towfiq and his wife they were sorry for what they were going through, according to an officer’s body-cam video entered into evidence.
Gross said he’d be willing to remove some of the outdoor speakers “if, hopefully, it would end all this controversy.”
“We still want to play music, but if eight speakers are too much...,” he said.
It wasn’t Gross’s first peace offering. He offered to settle the case last year, proposing the two men calculate how much money they’d spent in lawyers’ fees and donate the proceeds to local food banks and other charities. Towfiq rejected the proposal, calling it a stunt.
Gross’s wife, Amy, testified Monday that she feels as though Towfiq and his wife are trying to drive them out of their home, with repeated complaints to police and city authorities. But Gross said Tuesday that he isn’t going anywhere.
“It’s a very special house,” he said of the multimillion-dollar, multilevel home on a bluff at Laguna Beach. “We don’t want to leave. We won’t leave.”
Gross and Towfiq’s lawyer Chase Scolnick had a testy exchange on cross-examination after the billionaire called the attorney “dude,” prompting Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill to say: “Enough! From both of you!”
Knill rejected Scolnick’s request to enter into evidence a statement from the “Bond King” to investors, in which he took a swipe at the judge for finding last year that he harassed his neighbor with repeated playings of the “Gilligan Island” theme.
“My 50-something-year-old judge was appointed by ex-governor Jerry Brown many years ago,” Gross, 77, wrote in the statement. She “seemed more inclined to like music by 50 Cent or Usher, so she ruled I couldn’t play Gilligan’s louder than I wasn’t suppose to play it before. Hmm, Laguna Beach justice I suppose.”
Knill said she was aware of the statement and didn’t need to hear from Gross his reasons for writing it.
The lawyers are scheduled to give their closing statements Sept. 24 and Knill said she would issue her ruling a week later.
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