PulteGroup Exec Impersonated Dead Founder to Harass Grandson, Lawsuit Says


Bill Pulte, heir to PulteGroup Inc, the third largest homebuilder in the U.S., has alleged in a lawsuit that Brandon Jones, the company’s former COO, engaged in a bizarre campaign of harassment.

The amended lawsuit, filed in the 15th Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach Court, Florida, claims that Jones used X (formerly Twitter) to impersonate the deceased founder of PulteGroup, William J. Pulte, in order to defame and cyberstalk the Pulte family.

The details of the lawsuit allege that Jones created multiple fake social media accounts, including one that used the obituary photo and personal details of the company founder, the late William J. Pulte. That account, known as “@GhostofBPulte” on X, was purportedly used to attack and defame Pulte and his family, the lawsuit alleges.

“I am deeply troubled by the discovery of yet another fake social media account that stole the identity of my late grandfather to harass me and the founding family of PulteGroup,” Pulte stated in a press release. “This new discovery clearly demonstrates that PulteGroup didn’t conduct a thorough and complete investigation and, as a result, missed critical data that should have been easy to find.”

Jones is no longer an employee at PulteGroup, and the company did not immediately respond to request for comment.

In addition to allegations of Jones impersonating the deceased founder, the lawsuit says that the former executive operated several other fake identities, using them to spread defamatory statements and false accusations against the Pulte family. Lawyers for the Pulte family said the statements accusations included allegations of criminal activities aimed at damaging the reputation and causing emotional distress to the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit further accuses Jones of a campaign of electronic aggression, which started as far back as 2016. It alleges that Jones’s actions violated Florida’s cyberstalking statutes, causing “emotional distress” to Pulte and his family.

The legal action against Jones follows his termination from PulteGroup for violating the company’s Code of Ethical Business Conduct at the end of last year. The termination came after an “independent investigation” by PulteGroup, the details of which have not been publicly disclosed.

Amidst the developments, the Pulte family has called for a separate, independent investigation, insulated from the influence of current PulteGroup executives, to fully uncover the extent of Jones’s alleged misuse of company and shareholder resources.

“[William J.] Pulte had never even met Jones before Jones’ campaign of electronic aggression against Pulte began,” the filing said. “This suggests that Jones is doing the bidding of his longtime best friend and former boss, current Chief Executive Officer of PulteGroup, Ryan Marshall.”

The filing alleges that there is evidence suggesting Marshall’s involvement in the harassment campaign against Pulte. Text messages obtained through initial jurisdictional discovery indicate that Marshall was actively participating in the attacks against Pulte, both online and in other forms of communication.

The lawsuit claims that Marshall, in his capacity as CEO, has been involved in a long-standing pattern of hostility towards Pulte, including sharing confidential information about Pulte’s board activities with Jones, who then used the information to target Pulte through various online attacks.

Pulte, who is no longer directly associated with PulteGroup, said that the Pulte Family has reiterated their dedication to supporting the company and its shareholders by purchasing 171,037 shares of PulteGroup which are currently valued at $14.97 million. The Family said it has also purchased $7.4 million in PulteGroup homes for the purposes of renting to those unable to afford a home as well as supporting the company and its employees. 

“The Pulte Family remains committed to supporting the company our grandfather built and bringing value to its shareholders,” Pulte said.

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