Fraud. Theft. Conspiracy. Mutilation. Death. No, it’s not a revival of The Sopranos. It’s the bizarre series of events that have transformed the audio company Monster into a circus sideshow all its own.
Monster, the company that turned the headphone industry upside down with Dr. Dre, is upending its own executive board, announcing in a press release that it had fired “toxic” COO Fereidoun “Fred” Khalilian as of July 27, 2018 – alleging a failed hostile takeover, death and mutilation threats, and downright corruption.
A restraining order has been issued by California’s Superior Court against the former executive “for the protection of numerous employees of Monster against threats of mutilation, death, and threats to family.” That includes Monster founder and CEO Noel Lee himself, according to copies of court documents obtained by Digital Trends. The California Court notes that “a civil harassment restraining order is a court order that helps protect people from violence, stalking, serious harassment, or threats of violence.”
Monster also says it filed a police report with the San Francisco Police Department and the FBI containing allegations of fraud, theft, and conspiracy.
“I’m going to be a multi, multi-billionaire, without arrogance. I probably could be as big as Uber, if not bigger.”
Khalilian’s lawyer, Attorney Lucy McAllister, did not respond to a request for comments.
Exactly one year ago, Digital Trends published an expose on Khalilian, whom Monster had only just named as its new COO. In an exclusive interview with both Khalilian and Lee, the pair detailed an unlikely plan to move into a new business – online gambling.
“I think I have it figured out, and I’m going to be the first in the world,” Khalilian told Digital Trends. “And I’m going to be a multi, multi-billionaire, without arrogance. I probably could be as big as Uber, if not bigger.”
Online gambling is more or less illegal in the United States, despite the popularity of physical casinos in Vegas and Reno and Atlantic City. So how was a headphone maker to succeed in online gambling where Donald Trump, Richard Branson, and others have failed? “The roadmap is unbelievable, fraught with laws, certifications, international law, gaming commissions, all that stuff. Very, very complex,” Lee said. “But [Fred] has overcome. He’s found his niche, he’s worked his way through the government, through the Federal Trade Commission, through all of that, with a strategy that’s built around the American Indians.”
That’s what we were told in September 2017, anyway.
Since then, complaints from numerous Indian tribes including the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Iowa tribes have continued to grow, alleging that Khalilian and his cohorts walked away with tens of millions of dollars, leaving the tribes with nothing but an empty placeholder: the nonfunctioning pokertribe.com website.
Khalilian’s history is … checkered, Lee admitted to us last year.
“Fred is a very unusual personality,” Lee admits. “And quite frankly he’s an acquired taste because you don’t know what to make of him when you first meet him. And it takes a little time to say, man, this guy is a genius.”
Genius was Lee’s word at the time. Others have called him a scam artist, abuser, and rapist. He has been banned from telemarketing by the FTC, accused of rape and blackmail – you name it and Khalilian has been accused of it. A CBS MoneyWatch post detailing his 2011 settlement with the FTC over robo-calling put it like this: “while he’s now banned from all telemarketing, I think consumers would be safer if he were banned from walking outside for a while — and put in prison where he belongs.”
With police reports in the hands of the SFPD and the FBI, that’s clearly Monster’s aim. But what will happen is anything but clear: In his Instagram profile, Khalilian still describes himself as “Largest Shareholder of Monster.” According to our sources, however, Khalilian is currently the second largest shareholder.
How long do you think that situation will last?