Earlier this year, after Judge Kimberly Knill issued a restraining order against billionaire Bill Gross for harassing his neighbor, he bad-mouthed her in an open letter, calling her a “bona fide ‘hanging judge’ at the shore.”
It was a questionable strategy because nine months later he landed back in her Orange County courtroom. That time she sentenced Gross and his wife to five days in jail. (They likely won’t serve the time.)
Now, the “Bond King” is badmouthing her again.
In another open letter, theoretically an “investment outlook” report, Gross called Judge Knill “a 57-year-old lady with pierced nose stud and visible tattoos.”
He joked that he has been approached by a Hollywood producer to consult on a new James Bond flick modeled on his flare-ups. The working title: “You Only Hang Twice.”
“She’ll have a prominent place in the script and may even get to act in her own role,” he said of the judge.
Gross accused Knill of handing down a harsh sentence in his case to advance her career, saying the trial could “presumably be a stepping stone for the judge for greater court assignments. Even the appellate court...But perhaps my fury runneth over a little too much.”
A spokesperson for Orange County Court said that Knill cannot respond to Gross’ remarks—a preclusion he is giddily exploiting.
“The ethical rules for judicial officers in California bar any statement of opinion by any judge unless they’re sitting on the bench,” the spokesperson said.
It’s not clear Knill even has a nose stud or tattoos; neither is visible in her official photos. Nor is it clear why those adornments would be relevant. But either way, Gross is having fun.
The billionaire’s ire stems from a long-running dispute with one of his neighbors, Mark Towfiq, at their adjacent mansions in Laguna Beach.
The tit-for-tat details are well-known: Last year, Towfiq grew upset about netting Gross installed above an outdoor sculpture. He complained to city officials, allegedly prompting Gross to blare outrageously loud music at all hours, including the Gilligan’s Island theme song on repeat. Cue a restraining order issued by Judge Knill.
Then, this summer, Towfiq alleged that Gross and his wife, Amy, were once again blaring music. He called the police, and though no charges were filed, Judge Knill found in September that the Grosses had indeed violated the terms of the restraining order, calling them “contemptuous.” She sentenced them to five days in jail—none of which they are likely to serve.
Three of those days are suspended for a year, barring future infractions. The Grosses were also allowed to serve two of the days as community service. They were assigned to the Santa Ana soup kitchen, where Gross said he has volunteered on his own accord on past Thanksgivings and Christmases.
“Like one of my friends remarked at a lunch last week,” he wrote, “‘Community service? Gross has performed and provided more community service in the past 20 years than anyone in Orange County history!’”
The recent volunteering session was a mixed experience for the billionaire. He and Amy “cut chicken for the soup and fruit for the fruit cups,” then handed out “a gorgeous enchilada lunch replete with cheesecake and chips,” he said.
Gross questioned whether the soup kitchen’s visitors were actually needy. “A large percentage of cars were nice SUVs and pickup trucks,” he wrote.
He and Amy spent the day working alongside a “bedraggled” volunteer who took the bus in from Long Beach twice a week.
“I told him that was a wonderful gesture but silently thought to myself, ‘Buddy, you've been screwed. They’re living better than you,’” Gross said.
“And so perhaps we have all been screwed if the Santa Ana soup kitchen is any example,” he continued. “A trophy for every kid has moved up the maturity ladder to an artichoke for every adult.”
Soup kitchens, then, may be the latest front in Gross’ fight for justice. Last month, after Knill handed down his sentence, he issued a statement calling her decision “a black mark on the Orange County judicial system.” (There was a small victory to celebrate, though. The judge overruled a complaint about his outdoor umbrellas.)
Towfiq’s lawyer, meanwhile, attacked the Grosses, saying that their “own witness described Amy Gross’s behavior ‘as obnoxious, like a petulant child.’” Nonetheless, the lawyer added, “[Bill] Gross still hasn’t learned his lesson.”
In light of the open letter, the last point may be hard to argue.