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Gearbox CEO says personal assistant stole millions

Randy Pitchford caught up in tale of a grifter gone missing

Annual E3 Gaming Industry Conference Held In Los Angeles
Gearbox Software co-founder and chief executive Randy Pitchford at E3 2017.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Randy Pitchford, the Gearbox Software co-founder and chief executive, and his wife are among the victims of a Texas man whom authorities say is responsible for millions of dollars in theft and unauthorized purchases.

The tale of John Wright Martin, 33, is laid out in a detailed report this weekend by The Dallas Morning News. Wright, who had been the Pitchfords’ personal assistant, is currently nowhwere to be found. He is depicted as a charming grifter with a taste for luxury items, whose spending went undetected until it was too late.

Pitchford, to the Morning News, estimates he and his wife lost somewhere around $3 million to Martin. (Martin was never an employee of Gearbox Software and the case does not concern that studio’s finances.) The couple discovered in 2017 that they didn’t have enough money in an account to meet payroll at a coffee shop Kristy Pitchford owns, leading them to Martin.

Martin, who had since left their employ to start an interior design business, reached a legal agreement to repay the couple — but his first check, for more than half a million dollars, bounced.

Others caught in Martin’s orbit also reported bounced checks and bogus purchases. A summary judgment in state civil court named Martin responsible for more than $2 million to be repaid to the Pitchfords.

It’s a summary judgment because Martin was a no-show for that as well as a criminal trial set for Aug. 28. His own attorney implied he didn’t know Martin’s whereabouts or well being, though he said Martin is innocent of the felony charges involving the Pitchfords’ money.

The rest of the story spells out in lurid detail Martin’s yen for high living and conspicuous consumption. The spending included such grandiosities as enormous bar tabs buying a round for everyone in a bar, and five-figure charity donations. Martin, when he was the Pitchfords’ assistant, was paid a salary of $45,000.

Another alleged victim says he suspects there may be more hurt by Martin’s scheming, but are too embarrassed to go to authorities about it. Pitchford, who said Martin “didn’t destroy us,” expressed a similar concern: “Who might he destroy next?”

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