A neighbor of the billionaire founder of Pacific Investment Management Co. testified Monday about being subjected to hours of rap, rock and TV show theme songs for hours throughout the day and night in retaliation for complaining about an art installation he said blocked his view of the ocean in Laguna Beach.
Mark Towfiq testified about 17 minutes of video he took of Gross and his girlfriend, Amy Schwartz, that consistently showed examples of the couple taunting him and blaring the music that was so loud it drove Towfiq and his wife out of their master bedroom into the other side of the house.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill stopped the attorney for Towfiq from showing any more of the video, saying it was enough and that she got the gist of the complaint.
Towfiq said he was subjected to repeated blaring of the theme songs for “Gilligan’s Island” “M.A.S.H.” and “Green Acres” as well as raps by 50 Cent.
“I knew their intentions, they were trying to harass us,” Towfiq testified. “It was loud enough to hear throughout the house… We couldn’t sleep with that music on.”
Towfiq said when he sent a note to Gross and Schwartz to please turn down the volume, he was met with a response that said, “You sure enjoyed the Kenny Loggins concert last night. What’s the problem?”
Towfiq said he had a “sinking feeling” it would continue.
“I believe I responded, `Are you kidding me? We’re trying to sleep,”’ Towfiq testified.
City officials had just sent a letter to the couple a few days before July 31 when the musical performances began, Towfiq said.
Towfiq testified that the two would dance around on the balcony of their home, making taunting gestures as the music blared. He said Schwartz “flipped him off” at one point.
“At this point it was almost like PTSD,” Towfiq testified after several days of the exposure to the music.
“Anything would set us off,” he said of loud noises. “Both my wife and I would start hearing phantom music (at times).”
Towfiq eventually turned to the police for help. A couple of police officers previously testified they were at the home while the music blared and considered it in violation of the city’s noise ordinances.
Gross and Schwartz have accused Towfiq of taking an obsessive interest in his neighbors and accused him of being a peeping tom.
When asked about it, Towfiq said, “absolutely not.”
Towfiq said Schwartz once hollered expletives at him as he videotaped them from his side of his property.
“She said, you m effer, stop harassing us,” Towfiq testified.
“For them to say I was harassing them was unbelievable,” Towfiq said.
Towfiq said he refused to give in to their demands to pull their complaint about the netting around an art installation that he said blocks his ocean view.
“We did not want to give in to a bully,” Towfiq testified.
According to Towfiq, when he gave one more neighborly and police attempt to get them to turn down the music, Schwartz responded, “Hi Mark, have you dropped that art complaint to the city.”
At that, Towfiq testified, “I just shook my head and thought, OK, it’s clearly extortion… It was clear to me I wasn’t getting anywhere.”
In court papers filed last month, Gross, who is expected to testify next Monday, alleged that Towfiq and his wife, Carol Nakahara, filed a complaint that was “full of lies, willful omissions, exaggerations, and misrepresentations.”
Gross and Schwartz said the two “unnecessarily escalated this case far out of proportion than it needed to be for their own selfish reasons.”
They accused their neighbors of “weaponizing” local police and code enforcement officers and the court “to pursue a personal vendetta against Mr. Gross and Ms. Schwartz.”
Gross and Schwartz said Towfiq knew that making the allegations against his neighbors would give him “15 minutes of ill-gotten fame” over a “glorified noise complaint.”
They accused Towfiq of a “concerted effort to garner publicity for himself and become the center of Mr. Gross’ attention.”
Towfiq, Gross and Schwartz alleged, rented his home for an episode of HBO’s “Ballers” and “failed to inform” his neighbors of the shoot, which led to the blocking of the billionaire’s driveway.
Gross and Schwartz argue the netting around their art installation does not block any view of his neighbors’.