This is one of the most incredible stories we’ve run across in a while, and it involves a legendary member of the Seattle tech community, Brian Valentine — the Amazon senior vice president who originally made his mark as the bulldog in charge of Microsoft Windows engineering back in the day.
The story also involves Tom Petty, and allegations of fraud. Not allegations of fraud against Tom Petty. The singer actually ends up being the hero in the end.
In a criminal complaint filed July 25 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, federal prosecutors lay out a series of allegations against a man named Chad Christopher Lund. The complaint (PDF, 9 pages) alleges that Lund defrauded a Seattle man (identified only as as “B.V.”) of $165,000 by pretending to be Tom Petty’s booking agent.
This man, “B.V.,” had been trying to book Petty’s band as a surprise for his wife at their wedding reception. “B.V.” is Brian Valentine, according to the website The Smoking Gun. (Yes, Brian Valentine made The Smoking Gun.)
Prosecutors say “B.V.” found Lund’s company “after conducting some research on the internet” and corresponded with Lund via email before wiring $165,000 as a deposit on the $330,000 appearance. The charging papers allege that Lund forged the signature of Tom Petty’s manager.
Valentine, who is in charge of Amazon’s e-commerce platform, figured out what was going on after contacting Tom Petty’s management company about the booking, only to be told that they had no idea what he was talking about, according to the criminal complaint. Valentine tried to get the money back but wasn’t able to.
Here’s the fairytale ending: Valentine was still able to work out an arrangement to get Tom Petty to play, according to the Smoking Gun. Pictures of the performance were posted by the wedding planners on Facebook.
The planners write in the post, “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. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible. Congrats G & B.”
“The guy and his wife were the nicest people in the world,” a member of Petty’s road crew told the Smoking Gun.
What a story. We’ve reached out to Valentine to see if he wants to say anything, but presumably he hadn’t intended for this to be made public.