A con artist is at large after scamming a reported $3 million out of Gearbox Software CEO and President Randy Pitchford. The man behind this huge theft was Pitchford’s personal assistant. John Wright Martin has allegedly been embezzling millions from both Randy and his wife Kristy Pitchford.
Background On The Man Behind The Con
Back in 2014, Martin took a job as the personal assistant to the Pitchfords. His starting salary was just $45,000 a year. Martin, however, had a taste for the finer things in life and used other people’s money to get it.
In early 2015, Martin began charging his personal expenses to the Pitchfords’ American Express business account. What exactly did he buy? Purchases included designer clothes, jewelry, electronics, hotel stays, airfare, and even Amazon movie rentals. He even admitted that he supposedly has an “addiction to fine shoes and blazers.”
It didn’t just stop there, though. Martin even bought a home in Frisco’s small Newman Village. The market value of that home was $591,000. Real-estate site Zillow describes the home as “custom renovations by interior designer John Wright Martin” that are “tailored for a lifestyle of luxury.” So Martin wanted to live the high life but clearly couldn’t afford any of it.
Martin got “better and better at finding ways of spending our money,” Randy Pitchford said.
According to Frisco police, Martin also forged Kristy Pitchford’s name on at least seven checks from her business and personal account totaling to more than $73,000. One fateful day in 2016, the Pitchfords discovered finances missing from a holding account when preparing payroll for their Nerdvana business, so they started doing some digging.
“Kristy Pitchford called Martin, who had stopped working for them in September 2016 so he could pursue his own interior design business. She said Martin immediately apologized and told her there was a mix-up with his accounts. He promised to make it right, she said.”
Following this, the Pitchford’s attorney drew up a seven-page document in March 2017 to make Martin repay all the missing funds. The grand total amounted to $780,000. He signed it and “acknowledged the wrongfulness of his actions”. Martin later wrote them a check that month for the first $598,000. It bounced (shocker). Thankfully Martin was never actually an employee of Gearbox Software. Also important to mention is that the company’s finances have not been affected by his theft from the Pitchfords.
“In hindsight, I wish that’s all it was,” said Randy Pitchford, who estimates the total loss to be nearly $3 million. “We keep finding stuff.”
“I’ve wasted so much time on an idiot,” Worthen said.
It wasn’t just the Pitchfords who fell victim to this con man. Friends also came forward with their own stories. Matthew Worthen came forward, claiming he tried to help out Martin. Worthen loaned him money and let Martin have his 2015 BMW 4 series coupe and take over the payments on it.
It wasn’t long before Worthen got a call from a debt collector that the car was being repo’d because Martin wasn’t making payments. Martin, in an attempt to make things right, wrote Worthen a check to help him get his car back. That check, of course, bounced. He believes there are other victims out there who have yet to come forward.
Currently On The Run
Martin apparently has not yet performed any of his court-ordered community services on his most recent drunken-driving conviction, and he has missed multiple monthly check-ins with his supervision officer in Collin County, according to records. Martin’s attorney, Tom Pappas, said Martin is innocent of felony theft and forgery charges involving the Pitchfords’ money.
Martin’s whereabouts are currently unknown at the time, and even his own attorney won’t disclose when he last spoke with his client. Martin was due to appear in criminal court on August 28 but was a no-show. The judge has issued warrants for Martin’s arrest on those charges. Pappas has made a plea for any information to find out what happened to his client, fearing he has come to some harm.
“If you find out what’s been done to him, let me know,” Pappas told a reporter.
“He didn’t destroy us,” Randy Pitchford told Dallas News. But he worries for whoever is next in Martin’s path.
What are your thoughts on this whole situation? Let us know in the comments below. Hopefully, Martin will be found soon and brought to justice. I also hope the victims can claim some if not all of what was stolen from them.
Tarah Bleier is a freelance writer, editor and content creator from Toronto. As a graduate from Centennial College’s Journalism program, she has written for Tribute.ca, and Factinate.com and recently for Geek Enthusiast Magazine. In her free time, she loves gaming, cosplaying, prop making and attending as many conventions and geeky events as she can. Writing has always been a passion of hers and she has been a contributing writer of The Planet Observer for many years before becoming its Assistant Editor last year. Her work can also be seen on The Geekcast Radio Network where she has been a podcast host and writer.