Former Taco Bell exec faces new charges in Uber fracas

A Taco Bell executive who lost this job after allegedly beating an Uber driver — an incident caught on video — was slapped Tuesday with further criminal charges that put him at risk of spending up to a year behind bars and paying a $10,000 fine.

Benjamin Golden, 32, who lives in Newport Beach, California, was charged with four misdemeanor counts by the Orange County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday, a day after a YouTube video of the Uber car incident went viral.

The DA accused Golden of assault on public transportation property, battery on a public transit employee with injury, assault and battery. Golden originally was charged with misdemeanor assault and public intoxication by Costa Mesa police.

Above: Details of new charges lodged Tuesday by prosecutors against ousted Taco Bell executive Ben Golden

“Based on the evidence, we filed the charges we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt,” Roxi Fyad, spokeswoman for the Orange County DA’s office, told CNBC. Fyad said the video of the attack factored into the decision to charge Golden with the additional criminal counts.

The DA’s office said in a statement that it would seek a $20,000 bail for Golden, who currently is out on $500 bail following his arrest on Friday for allegedly attacking Uber driver Edward Caban. Golden is scheduled to be arraigned in court on Nov. 17.

Golden did not respond to messages requesting comment left by CNBC at multiple phone numbers and email addresses.

CNBC broke the news Monday that Golden, who had been leading Taco Bell’s mobile commerce and innovation initiatives, lost his job after his arrest on Friday. Golden spent more than seven years working for Taco Bell’s parent, Yum Brands.

“Given the behavior of the individual, it is clear he can no longer work for us,” Taco Bell said in a statement emailed to CNBC on Monday. “We have also offered and encouraged him to seek professional help.”

The YouTube video posted by Caban, which was taken from a camera mounted on his Uber car’s dashboard, shows Golden in the back seat Friday night at around 8 p.m.

The video reveals Caban repeatedly and unsuccessfully asking Golden for driving directions. Caban flips his camera around to show the inside of the car, and Golden topples over in the back seat with an audible thud as the driver makes a left turn.

Benjamin Golden

Source: Louisville Metro Corrections Dept.
Benjamin Golden

In the video, Caban eventually pulls over and orders Golden out the car, saying he is “too drunk” to give Caban directions. The driver warns that he will call police if Golden doesn’t get out. It’s at that point that the confrontation becomes violent.

The video of the incident has been viewed more than 1.3 million times on YouTube.

Police records show that Golden was arrested on July 8, 2012, in Louisville, Kentucky, on charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

According to a police report obtained by CNBC, Golden had bloodshot eyes and “fumbled through paperwork looking for registration.”

“When asked, subject stated that he had come from the Big Bar and had a couple of drinks, stating two,” the report said. “When pulled out of car, subject changed story to ‘three beers.’ ”

Golden then failed a field sobriety test, according to the report. He pleaded guilty to the charge a month later and received a sentence of 30 days in jail, 26 days of which were conditionally discharged, according to the Jefferson County Attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case.

Golden’s license was also suspended for one month, the prosecutor’s office said.

Golden’s LinkedIn account is no longer available, and his Twitter link was blocked from public sight, but on a cached version of his Twitter page, he describes himself with a simple statement: “Sushi lover. Bourbon drinker. The end.”

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