FEATURE PHOTO: DreamHouse CEO Eric Martinez speaks during the Oct. 1 news conference when his company was announced as New Mexico Bowl title sponsor. Martinez posted the photo on Facebook, which ironically came from a KOB story. KOB told Enchantment Sports it is also investigating Martinez.
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PART 5 OF 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 victim.
Copyright Enchantment Sports/Tick Talk Media Productions, LLC
By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
If you haven’t heard of Eric Martinez, you’re not alone.
Despite Martinez’s countless claims of being one of New Mexico’s biggest stars, he’s not exactly a household word in town.
Except for those who know him.
And they have plenty of choice words about him.
“He lies for a living,” said Steven Michael Quezada, one of Albuquerque’s most recognizable actors and a Bernalillo county commissioner. “He’s a pathological liar. I don’t know how he’s gotten away with it so long and never been exposed.
“Until now — thanks to your website.”
And you’re about to hear even more.
On Monday, KOB TV general manager Michelle Donaldson told our website that her station is investigating allegations against Martinez, the CEO of DreamHouse and title sponsor of the DreamHouse New Mexico Bowl.
“We are aware of your reporting,” Donaldson said in an email response to Enchantment Sports. “We began looking into it right away.”
Stories from Enchantment Sports’ series about Martinez and his numerous alleged scams have been shared hundreds of times on social media, and the website has had more than 12,000 views since the series began on Oct. 11.
Comments about Martinez and his alleged scams are filling Facebook sites.
Yet, no other news media have reported about the allegations as of Oct. 21, and Albuquerque sports radio talk shows have basically avoided the subject.
Multiple people said Jeff Siembieda, executive director of the DreamHouse New Mexico Bowl and co-host of “The Opening Drive” talk show on KNML radio, said they have not heard him mention Martinez or his bowl game since our series began.
Siembieda touted the bowl and Martinez repeatedly the week after the bowl announced its deal with DreamHouse on Oct. 1.
Enchantment Sports has emailed Siembieda multiple times to ask questions about Martinez’s allegations, the bowl game’s financial deal with DreamHouse and his silence on the radio – as well as many other questions.
Siembieda has not responded, nor has Martinez since he called Enchantment Sports on Oct. 5 for a short background interview.
The only radio stations addressing the controversy are Albuquerque’s KIVA (1600 AM/93.7 FM), with afternoon talk show host/general manager Eddy Aragon, and Santa Fe’s KTRC (1260 AM/103.7 FM), with Richard Eeds.
Eeds interviewed Enchantment Sports editor Mark Smith on Oct. 14.
But no talk on sports talk? Is the topic taboo?
Joe O’Neill, president of KQTM (101.7 FM), said his station, an ESPN affiliate, didn’t have its local afternoon show often last week because of Major League baseball.
“We have preempted The Jim Villanucci Show, due to our MLB postseason coverage the last two weeks,” O’Neill said. “We have no restrictions in place regarding the topic (about Martinez and the bowl game).”
When asked if his stations are allowing callers to address the Martinez and the N.M. Bowl, Jeff Berry, general manager of Cumulus stations KKOB and KNML, said “If the host is doing a segment about it. We don’t put callers on to talk about stuff we are not talking about.”
Nobody has yet told us they have heard any Cumulus talk shows do such a segment.
The Albuquerque Journal, as well as KRQE, KOAT and KOB television news stations, have not reported on Martinez’s allegations as of Oct. 21.
Enchantment Sports contacted all four media outlets to ask if they were aware of the stories. And if so, why they haven’t covered it.
We also asked if any of the four had sponsorship deals with the bowl game.
It should be noted, that Mark Smith worked for the Albuquerque Journal for more than 24 years, most recently as an assistant sports editor.
KRQE and KOAT did not respond, despite requests to multiple people at each station.
The Journal and KOB did respond.
In addition to her aforementioned comments, Donaldson stated:
“I am aware of your reporting and have been following it closely. I will not speak for other news outlets, but for us, it’s a matter of doing our own work and reporting things that we feel confident meet our broadcast standards
“This is not to question your work at all, but simply to say that it in no way lessens our own responsibility to be buttoned-up about what we may report.
“Also, as a general rule, I personally dislike regurgitating someone else’s hard-earned work. Anything that we produce should help to advance the story and not merely repeat it.”
In an email, Journal editor Karen Moses said “The Journal does not discuss coverage of stories it may or may not be working on. We will sometimes discuss select stories when promoting them, but only after they are scheduled for publication.
“Sponsorships traditionally are not handled by the Journal newsroom. They are handled by the Journal Publishing Company’s marketing department, which does not discuss potential or ongoing negotiations of its business deals.”
The DreamHouse New Mexico Bowl website lists the Albuquerque Journal, KNML The Sports Animal, KKOB Radio and KRQE among the game’s many sponsors.
The DreamHouse New Mexico Bowl is a sponsor of Enchantment Sports.
The only story the Journal has done about DreamHouse’s title sponsorship with the bowl game was the day after the announcement.
Here is the link to that story.
The Journal story’s questioned whether DreamHouse is affiliated with super successful business Dreamstyle Remodeling — the title sponsor for the University of New Mexico’s football stadium and basketball arena.
Dreamstyle said the two companies are in no way connected.
Not everyone has ‘Shut Up’
It is likely only a matter of time before Martinez’s shenanigans can continue to be ignored by mainstream Albuquerque media.
They certainly aren’t being ignored by at least one member of Albuquerque’s alternative media.
Robert Gipson, co-host along with LB Johnson of the “Shut Up and Talk” television show, reached out to Enchantment Sports and said Martinez called them to be the debut guest on their show last summer, and they obliged.
They want to know if Martinez misled them.
“We were told that Eric was a big deal in the city; actor, director and producer,” Gipson said. “He bragged about his accomplishments and on big things he had coming in the future, including the multi-million dollar (DreamHouse) production studio. As our first guest on a new local TV show, we were excited to have him on.
“Martinez continuously reached out to us to be on the show to promote himself and DreamHouse; he was very adamant about DreamHouse,” Gipson said.
Johnson said that Martinez called them to cover the Oct. 1, news conference, “and we sent a photographer to get footage for a future show. But the day before we were going to produce the show, your (Enchantment Sports) story came out. So we didn’t do the show.
On Saturday (Oct. 19), Gipson and Johnson interviewed Smith for an upcoming episode of their show.
“After reading your story, we had other questions for Martinez, including; ‘Did he mislead us and our viewers?’ We just want to find out the truth,” Johnson said.
Shut Up and Talk airs on Comcast channel 26 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 p.m. It is also available on YouTube and Facebook (under ProView Networks).
Gipson and Johnson are far from the only ones in Albuquerque who say they might have been deceived by Martinez.
“If Martinez is a con artist, along with many other things, we don’t understand how something the size of the New Mexico Bowl could have been fooled into a deal with him,” Johnson said.
“After reading your stories, it’s clear that his movie posters are Photoshopped — which can only lead to questions about his entire biography,” Johnson said.
Don’t believe your lying eyes
Numerous people who have dealt with Martinez and his claims of stardom say he uses Photoshops to worm his way into celebrity worlds of the rich and famous, like Johnny Tapia and the Harlem Globetrotters. They say he then uses that fake status to talk people into making investments with his film projects.
In 2014, Martinez made a trailer — a short promo of a film — for a movie he said he was making called “Money Is King.”
But the trailer wasn’t of the movie. Rather, it was a fundraising effort.
“I know many local indie filmmakers on the crew and cast who were conned to help create the trailer, which was funded,” said Albuquerque filmmaker Mando Hernandez. “They were told the film also was funded. The film never happened.”
Joshua Melendez said he was a friend of Martinez’s for a few years, but Martinez scammed him for around $2,000.
“Everything with him is smoke and mirrors,” said Melendez, who was 18 when he moved to Albuquerque in hopes of breaking into the music business as a hip-hop artist. “He assured me that I was buying into a successful business in his Power Moves, Ent.
“He’s taken people for tens of thousands of dollars, much more than what he got me for,” Melendez said. “Honestly, for me it wasn’t about the amount, it was more about that he knew this was everything I had at the time, and he had no moral issue with it.”
Melendez said he ran into Martinez a few years after he was conned, and Martinez told him he was working on repaying him, “but then he tried to get me into other scams. I wasn’t going to fall for it again.”
Melendez, 35, is now a state contractor at Kirtland Air Force Base and founded the website Latinobeatz.com.
He said Martinez “never repaid me a dime.
“This guy will use people for their money and-or resources, get what he sees as beneficial to him and move on without delivering on so-called opportunities,” Melendez said.
But if it is a scam, they say it could have easily been avoided with a little research.
“Everyone in the film industry in New Mexico knows what the guy is about,” said filmmaker Hernandez, who said Martinez hired him three times but only paid him once. “You can ask anyone.
“Just look at all the comments about him on Facebook since your (Enchantment Sports) stories started.”
One of the most recent examples of Martinez’s alleged Photoshopping is the 18-wheel DreamHouse rig in the picture below.
Martinez posted this on social media, although DreamHouse was not yet a company:
“I had a good laugh,” Tamas Nadas, an Albuquerque filmmaker who is Hungarian, said when seeing the post.
“If you zoom in on the license plate, it’s from Hungary.”
In both 2017 and again last spring, Martinez had photos promoting himself as a featured celebrity for Harlem Globetrotter games in the metro area.
Martinez somehow talked his way into getting a Globetrotters uniform and playing a few minutes in the game last spring in Rio Rancho.
When contacted by Enchantment Sports, the Globetrotters said they did not approve of his “creatives,” or even know about them.
“The attached image that you sent (above) was not approved by the Harlem Globetrotters,” said Brett Meister, senior vice president of communications for the Globetrotters.
“In fact, two of the players in the creative were no longer members of the team at the date of the game you provided. However, I can confirm that Mr. Martinez was a “guest Globetrotter” for the game. From time to time, a local media personality or celebrity will actually play briefly in a game.”
Meister did not respond to multiple emails asking who approved Martinez to play in the game, and what qualified him as a “local celebrity.”
Shades of deceit
Martinez has biographies on multiple social media sites, all with eye-popping claims of grandeur that are downright comical.
Here is an excerpt from the one that was recently deleted from the DreamHouse website:
“Eric was with multiple R&B groups before finally landing with the group Shades of Soul where he performed all over the country and most notably on Showtime singing the National Anthem before a world title boxing match for then World Champion Johnny Tapia at The Pit.
As a group they performed for more than 5 years together.”
In a short background interview with Enchantment Sports on Oct. 5, Martinez talked about the night he and Shades of Soul sang in the Pit, and said he was friends with the late boxing great Tapia.
“Every time he saw me, it was all love,” Martinez said of Tapia. “When we performed at the Showtime event for him, we saw him and Frans Botha; he fought on that card as well. We got to hang out with them. It was really cool.”
However, Tapia’s widow, Teresa Tapia, said she doesn’t remember Shades of Soul. She said the band “never sang on Showtime,” nor did Martinez.
“He did know Johnny,” Teresa said of Martinez, “but they never hung out. He never came to our home or vice versa.
“We knew him in the gym.”
No local musician contacted for this story said they ever heard of Shades of Soul.
But Leonard Kagan told Enchantment Sports there actually was a band named Shades of Soul for a brief time in the late 1990s, and he was their manager.
He said Martinez was in the group, but he was far from a singing star.
And the band didn’t go anywhere.
“I do not know how Eric got in the band but he was not one of the main singers, but more background vocals,” Kagan said.
Kagan said he did get Shades of Soul into the Pit to do the National Anthem as part of the festivities the night of that Tapia fight in October of 1999, but their performance wasn’t televised and the band wasn’t paid.
“Shades of Soul sang, but it wasn’t on Showtime,” Kagan said. “There was a Hispanic act that did the National Anthem before the fight on television.”
As for Shades of Soul touring the country and performing for five years, Kagan chuckled and said Shades of Soul “never had a paid gig and disbanded when one of the lead singers went into the military on short notice.”
Micky Cruz, one of the state’s most popular Latin musicians who has performed for 25 years, said he knows of Martinez, but has never heard of him being a singer or musician.
“I am pretty well connected, and very aware of what’s going on in the community,” said Cruz, 39. “I don’t know Martinez personally, but I saw him talking to people at an event I was playing at once.
“People at the event said he self-promotes himself and he is all hype.”
Marco Nuñez, leader of the band The James Douglas Show, said Martinez is not a singer or musician.
He is, however, something else.
“A scam artist,” Nuñez said. “Eric has always scammed people and burned bridges. I’m willing to bet that if you talked to 10 people, all 10 would say the same thing.”
NEXT: Our series is tentatively scheduled to continue early evening today (Oct. 22), but breaking news could change that. To immediately receive our stories, please sign up for our website by using the link in the rail to the right of the screen.
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.