DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Crime

FBI: Amazon Exec Was Fleeced In Tom Petty Scam

Suspect stole $165,000 via phony wedding scheme

Tom Petty

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Amazon Wedding Band

AUGUST 3--A wealthy tech executive who wanted to book Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to perform at his wedding reception as a “gift” to his new wife was swindled out of $165,000 by a Las Vegas man who masqueraded as a concert booking agent, The Smoking Gun has learned.

FBI agents yesterday arrested Chad Christopher Lund, 44, on felony fraud charges stemming from his dealings with Brian Valentine, an Amazon.com senior vice president who contacted the bureau in May to report that “he believed he was the victim of fraud,” according to a criminal complaint.

However, in a fairy tale ending fueled by the groom’s deep pockets, Petty & Co. ended up playing at the wedding reception for Valentine, 52, and Gianna Puerini, 39, who wed last month. Petty is pictured at right performing at the Seattle nuptials.

Lund’s alleged scheme is detailed by FBI Agent Eric Petersen in a three-count wire fraud complaint unsealed yesterday in U.S. District Court. The complaint only refers to Valentine by his initials, “B.V.”

Valentine told the FBI that he became engaged to Puerini, also an Amazon employee, in mid-2010 and that the couple scheduled their nuptials for July 21, 2012. In late-2011, Valentine “decided that he wanted to have Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at his wedding as a gift to his fiancé,” Petersen reported.

So the Amazon officer (who spent 19 years at Microsoft before joining the retailer in 2006) went online to research how he could book Petty for his wedding. That is when Valentine discovered the web site for Lund’s firm, which claimed that it booked acts like Petty, Run-DMC, Kansas, and Ludacris. Lund’s site, lundlive.com, is no longer online.

In e-mail correspondence, Lund told Valentine that he “had a relationship” with Petty’s management team and could “negotiate a price for the band’s performance.” In early-October, Lund reported that he had haggled Petty’s representatives “down to a price of $330,000 for the performance.”

Lund subsequently provided Valentine with a proposed contract that included the name of Petty’s longtime manager Tony Dimitriades (who is identified as “T.D.” in the federal complaint). In late-October, after Lund later provided Valentine with a contract document purportedly signed by Dimitriades, Valentine had half the concert fee, $165,000, wired to Lund’s Bank of America account.

After receiving the 50% downpayment, Lund provided Valentine with the name of Petty’s production manager, Chris Adamson, and his supposed e-mail address (Adamson is referred to as “C.A” in the complaint). Lund advised that Valentine could “work out the logistical details” of the Petty gig with Adamson.

However, Valentine “was never able to reach C.A.” via the e-mail provided by Lund (the e-mail address, Agent Petersen noted, was bogus).

In early-April, with his wedding just three months away, Valentine (pictured at left) contacted Petty’s management company to “discuss the booking.” In an e-mail, Dimitriades broke the bad news: “We have never heard of Chris Lund or his agency. We are not aware of any deal for Tom Petty to play Seattle in July and I have never signed a contract for any such.” He added, “It looks like you have been defrauded.”

When the FBI provided Dimitriades with a copy of the signed contract, he told Petersen that “the signature on the contract was not his, and that he had never signed the contract.”

In an effort to recoup his deposit, Valentine first hired a private investigator in Las Vegas, where Lund resided. In an April 24 e-mail, Lund wrote that, “I have every intention of getting your $165,000 back to you out of my own personal funds, but I ask you for a little patience.” While he initially offered to work out a payment plan, Lund did not respond to Valentine when the executive sought to explore that possibility.

On May 2, the P.I. told Valentine that Lund had vacated his Las Vegas home. The following day, Valentine contacted the FBI to report he had been defrauded.

Lund, arrested yesterday in Illinois, is locked up in advance of a detention hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon. Lund is pictured below.

Though he had already been fleeced out of $165,000 trying to line up Petty’s band for his wedding, Valentine remained undeterred when it came to booking the act--this time doing it through legitimate channels. Valentine proposed to Puerini in June 2010 at a Petty concert at The Gorge ampitheater in Seattle (Puerini includes the act among her favorite musical groups on her Facebook page).

As seen on the Facebook page of True Colors Events, the couple’s wedding planner, the “surprise performers” at the July 21 wedding reception, “were none other than rock & roll legends TOM PETTY + THE HEARTBREAKERS!” The Seattle firm added that, “After over a year and a half of working with an absolutely incredible couple in complete secrecy, it was beyond amazing to surprise the guests of their wedding with these amazing performances...Congrats G & B.”

Petty and his bandmates performed a full set at the wedding, which was held at a space in Seattle’s Industrial District. “The guy and his wife were the nicest people in the world,” recalled a member of Petty’s road crew. (9 pages)