EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was rewritten republished on Oct. 31, 2019. It contains a great deal of new information.
Feature photo: Eric Martinez’s campaign “I Got Your Back” is yet another in a long line of alleged scams. This one could be the most offensive of all (Instagram).
PART 6 IN A SERIES: Enchantment Sports continues its investigative series on Eric Martinez, CEO of DreamHouse and title sponsor of the DreamHouse New Mexico Bowl. Martinez is a shameless self-promoter who bills himself as one of the top actors, entertainers, directors, activists and richest people in New Mexico. Countless others allege he is the top con artist in New Mexico, and the ESPN Events-owned bowl game is his latest pigeon.
Copyright Enchantment Sports/Tick Talk Media Productions, LLC
By Mark Smith
Enchantment Sports Editor in Chief
The jaw-dropping stories about alleged con man and DreamHouse CEO Eric Martinez are seemingly endless.
They span countless walks of life, including entertainment, politics, activism, boxing, magazine publishing and kids’ literacy programs.
But the biggest blow against Martinez, whose company was named title sponsor of the DreamHouse New Mexico Bowl on Oct. 1 — is no allegation.
The man who makes money giving anti-bullying and anti-domestic violence talks, supposedly representing charity, is a domestic abuser, himself.
In 2017, Martinez pleaded guilty to battery on a household member against his ex-girlfriend Catherine Trujillo.
“I finally broke up with him, and he lost it,” Trujillo told Enchantment Sports of Aug. 6, 2016.
Trujillo spoke to Enchantment Sports numerous times, the first time on Oct. 4.
Court records also show a separate case in 2000 against Martinez for “battery against a household member.” That case was dismissed in 2001.
Martinez has not responded to numerous emails from Enchantment Sports questioning him about the 2016-17 domestic violence case.
A police report obtained by Enchantment Sports said Albuquerque police responded to the 5000 block of Gold Rush Drive N.W. on Aug. 6, 2016, where officer Melanie Carrillo met with an “extremely distraught” Trujillo.
In the report, Trujillo, then 25, said Martinez, then 46, smashed her computer, worth $600. He also held her down on a couch during an argument.
According to the report, Trujillo said she tried to call her father, but Martinez took away her cell phone. He eventually returned it and left before police arrived.
The report said paramedics checked out Trujillo, but she was not taken to a hospital for treatment.
She refused to fill out a victim statement, and a summons was issued for Martinez on the domestic violence charges.
In January 2017, Trujillo filed for a restraining order against Martinez.
On March 15, 2017, with his friend and actor Quinton Aaron (“The Blind Side”) with him in court, Martinez pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault.
Martinez was also charged with interference with communications and criminal property damage, but both were dismissed.
Martinez successfully completed probation in September 2017, according to court records.
Martinez’s biography, as well as all others on his staff, were deleted from the company’s website last week, just four days after Enchantment Sports posted its first story about its investigation of Martinez on Oct. 11.
Ian Stewart, son-in-law of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, was listed as the general manager of the company.
Enchantment Sports sent a detailed list of questions to the governor’s office on Oct. 11, including specific inquires about Stewart’s relationship with Martinez, and asked the governor if she was aware of Martinez’s domestic violence history.
Lujan Grisham’s spokesman, Tripp Stelnicki, said in an email the governor was “not aware of this Martinez fellow at all and, by extension, the allegations against him you outline here.
“But I will tell you, of course, domestic violence is a very serious and concerning issue.”
Jeff Siembieda, executive director of the DreamHouse New Mexico Bowl, has not responded to any allegations concerning Martinez, including specific questions about the domestic violence issue.
Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events, which owns the bowl game, and ESPN senior publicist Anna Negron also have not responded to questions about Martinez’s domestic violence cases.
Albuquerque track star and Olympic medal winner Jarrin Solomon said he and his wife, Debra Solomon, were friends with Martinez.
He said Martinez and Stewart produced a documentary about his track career to help him with gain sponsors prior to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics.
Here is a link of the documentary “Road to Rio,” made in 2016.
(“Road to Rio” was also a motion picture starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in 1947).
Jarrin said Martinez told them about the domestic violence charge, but “Eric said he didn’t abuse Catherine. “He said she just got in the closet and started screaming at him and hyperventilating,” Jarrin said.
“I asked him why he would plead guilty if he wasn’t guilty. He said he didn’t want to have it drag through court. He said he was worried the allegation would ruin his career.”
He didn’t even leave “milk money”
Trujillo said Martinez moved into her home for about two months after “he was basically kicked out of his apartment for not paying his rent.”
She said she was the financier of their relationship, and lost nearly $60,000 because of constantly backing Martinez for projects he supposedly was working on, but never did.
“He controlled every aspect of my life. He’s a complete liar. He stole money from me and other people. He screwed people over.”
Enchantment Sports asked Trujillo if she or her family were wealthy, or how did Martinez cost her $60,000?
On Oct. 4, Trujillo said she received a large settlement from a car accident, and Martinez had planned to use all of it — although she didn’t say how much the claim was worth.
On Oct. 31, she texted to say Martinez didn’t actually take the money from the claim, but planned to. Again she didn’t say how much the claim was worth.
When asked again how Martinez allegedly cost her $60,000, she said “financial abuse.”
When asked what she meant by “financial abuse,” and if she specifically could list a few things that could lead to costing her $60,000, Trujillo responded, “if you don’t believe me, that’s OK.
“… As I stated earlier, I’m done answering questions about the story.”
Trujillo said she planned how to break up with Martinez for months, but “I was scared of him.”
Finally, she said, she had enough on Aug. 16, 2016.
“He drained all my money,” she said. “I was negative in my account. I had no way to get food for my son and me. No gas for my car.
“I couldn’t afford milk or eggs for my son.”
Trujillo, whose son is now 8, said Martinez never repaid her a penny.
She tried to make the public aware of him.
“I went to news stations,” she said. “They didn’t do anything. Nobody listened while I was being abused and he was doing anti-bullying.”
Trujillo said Martinez was being paid for giving anti-bullying and anti-domestic violence speeches at schools and churches in the name of charity but pocketed every dime.
“That’s how he makes a living, getting paid to do anti-bullying speeches,” she said. “He never gave any of that money to those causes.”
After this story first posted on Oct. 23, Enchantment Sports asked Trujillo if she ever confronted Martinez about his speeches or if she ever informed schools, churches or any other groups he was being paid to speak to under the alleged false pretenses.
Trujillo said, “I don’t want to answer anymore questions, right now.”
Trujillo, who unsuccessfully ran for Albuquerque City Council after her separation from Martinez and said she plans to run again, wrote this article for Encantado Magazine in September of 2017.
She didn’t identify Martinez in the story, but now says he was the one she was writing about.
In 2012, Martinez started his “I Got Your Back,” campaign, supposedly in the name of anti-bullying.
On several Internet sites, Martinez’s biography states:
“Eric has spoken to over 4 million students nationwide and the numbers continue to grow.
As an Ambassador to anti-bullying programs in Australia and London, he continues to serve in this role around the world.
“Eric was a keynote speaker for Lulac (sic) during President Barack Obama’s first Campaign in Washington D.C. where he impressed Senator Hilary (sic) Clinton so much that she invited him to speak in Chicago.”
Notice that Clinton’s first name is misspelled and the League of United Latin American Citizens is LULAC, not Lulac.
Enchantment Sports has emailed asked Martinez numerous times to provide the contact of someone who could verify any of his head-scratching claims.
He didn’t respond.
During a short background interview with Martinez on Oct. 5, Enchantment Sports asked Martinez about his campaign.
“I wanted to shed light on it from both ends of the spectrum. Just the importance of just being kind to each other.”
Here is a link to his original campaign video, which includes actor and Martinez’s close friend Quinton Aaron, actor and retired MMA fighter Keith Jardine and Albuquerque State Farm Insurance agent Marty Saiz, who runs an AAU basketball program.
Saiz said he also had Martinez speak to group of young basketball players in 2012.
Boxing writer Andrew Rivera, a contributor to Enchantment Sports, said he informed Saiz and others numerous times that Martinez was a “con man.”
“I let people who I knew on his campaign, including Marty Saiz and MMA fighters, know about Martinez,” said Rivera, who has known Martinez for more than two decades and is also a contributor to Enchantment Sports.
“(Saiz) told me Eric wasn’t getting paid by him and he did it as a favor. When Eric started popping up three-or-four years ago, I tried to let as many people as I could be aware about him.
“But they didn’t care. They all just let Eric continue with his scam. Nobody tried to stop him.”
Asked about his relationship with Martinez, Saiz responded by email, “I didn’t pay him for talking to the players at the clinic.
“I must agreed (sic) to appear in his ‘I got your back’ video in exchange. I think that was in 2012. We have been Facebook friends since 2011.”
Albuquerque filmmaker Tamas Nadas is one of many people listed as a “global ambassador” with Martinez’s “I Got Your Back” campaign, but he had no idea he was on that list until contacted by our wesbite.
“He’s a total con man,” said Nadas, a retired Albuquerque Police Department detective and former karate world champion.
“I’m not sure about the other people on the list, but I have never authorized Eric to use my name in any way to represent him or what he stands for since I am aware of his background.”
Here is the list Martinez posted
of folks who were supposedly “global ambassadors” for his alleged campaign.
Enchantment Sports has not verified a single person who gave Martinez permission to publish their name on the list.
He can talk – reading is another story
Jarrin Solomon said Martinez tried to get him involved in his anti-bullying campaign, and wanted to have Solomon pay him a $2,500 retainer to be his manager and get him speaking gigs.
“I wasn’t about to pay a guy before he even got me any work,” Solomon said. “That was crazy.”
Solomon said he did go with Martinez to Taos “a couple of years ago when he was speaking to school up there.”
Solomon said Martinez didn’t once mention his own domestic violence history during the speeches.
Solomon said he was not aware that Martinez listed him on his “global ambassadors” website page.
Steven Michael Quezada, one of Albuquerque’s most recognizable actors and a Bernalillo county commissioner, said Martinez “is a total hypocrite. He’s a bully and treats people like garbage.
“He talks and talks, but it’s all lies.”
Quezada said he acted in film recently in Farmington and Martinez had “a bit role in it (and ) he treated the make-up artists so bad they were nearly in tears.”
Andres Trujillo, had similar accounts of Martinez at a “Reading and Literacy” educational program that Trujillo’s company, The Crew, was hired to organize at Cottonwood Mall.
“It was around 2013, and we invited him to be a part of a literacy event at the mall,” said Andres Trujillo. “He was asked to read a kids book to the children in attendance as a special guest.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and how he struggled to read when he told me he could,” Andres Trujillo continued. “He was reading a kids’ book called ‘Llama Llama,’ which is a kids’ book about an animal.
“(Martinez) pronounced it ‘yam-a, yam-a’ the whole time. And the kids were very confused.”
Andres said Martinez boasted about his alleged stardom, was rude to people and tried to act like the one in charge.
“He’s telling everybody how he’s this great actor, director this and that, but it was obvious no one really knew who he was. It was very embarrassing for me that I booked him at a literacy event when he wasn’t reading the book properly.
“What really got me frustrated was that he never promoted or gave my company credit for putting on the event and inviting him,” Andres said. “He went on like it was the ‘Eric Martinez literacy event.’ ”
“Eric is definitely a self-centered individual with no regard for anyone else.”
Update: As of Oct. 31, Siembieda has still not responded to numerous questions from Enchantment Sports. He finally read a brief statement on his radio show on Oct. 25 after ESPN cancelled ended the bowl’s sponsorship with DreamHouse, but did not bring the topic up again or field any calls from listeners about the fiasco.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio and has been honored nationally for investigative reporting. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.