Pitchford, a former business partner of Paul Donisthorpe, appears in
this screen shot from a Facebook page. Pitchford said he, too, was
swindled by Donisthorpe, who funneled client trust funds into a Texas
Paul Donisthorpe and Darrell Pitchford were competitors showing
cattle at the New Mexico State Fair when Donisthorpe got tired of
Pitchford winning all the prizes.
So Donisthorpe pitched the idea
of them going into business together. Eight years later, Pitchford rues
the day he agreed to the partnership.
“I never want to hear his name again in my life,” Pitchford said last
week in a telephone interview from his Athens, Texas, ranch.
had been the “money man” for the 100-head Corazon-Pitchford cattle
operation that featured prized Santa Gertrudis cows.
But it turns
out a large chunk of the cash Donisthorpe had been pumping into the
business came from the trust accounts of vulnerable and special needs
clients whose accounts Donisthorpe managed at the Albuquerque-based
Desert State Life Management.
“It’s like when you’re on top of the
world and you get your chair pulled out from under you,” Pitchford
said. He said he had no idea Donisthorpe had swindled Desert State trust
clients until the news broke in Albuquerque last June.
really, really slick,” Pitchford said. “He was good as gold to my
family. Super nice. We never argued. We were building a really good
Donisthorpe served as deputy New Mexico State Fair director
in the 1980s, but he and another top fair official resigned in 1989
amid reports of financial mismanagement.
After the Desert State
revelations came to light, Pitchford discovered Donisthorpe hadn’t paid
$300,000 owed to TransOva, a firm that helped with cow embryo placement
and development at their Texas cattle operation.
Pitchford, Donisthorpe also had changed the articles of incorporation to
show he owned 67 percent of the Corazon-Pitchford cattle company.
Pitchford said they agreed to Donisthorpe’s owning 51 percent.
“From the very beginning, when they founded the company, Donisthorpe
was already cheating him,” said Scott Fuqua of Santa Fe, Pitchford’s
“I’ve got a long ways to go to pay off all the debt,”
Pitchford said, saying he can relate to the plight of the trust clients
who were robbed.
“Heck, I was as much a victim as they were.”
The cattle operation is among the assets state and federal investigators are hoping to tap for victim restitution.
Mexico Financial Securities Division senior counsel Kevin Graham and
FID acting chief Christopher Moya traveled to Texas to check out the
prospects of recovery.
“It turns out the value of cattle is a lot
less than we hoped,” Graham said. “Maybe thousands, but certainly not
hundreds of thousands.”
Pitchford nevertheless will be negotiating a settlement with the state, state officials said.
plans to start over with a new financial backer but is “pretty much”
out of luck in trying to recover his losses, Fuqua said.
“He would be drilling the same dry hole that everybody else is drilling, and that’s Donisthorpe.”