Once upon a time Wizard was a company who published a Wizard Magazine: A Guide To Comics. Set up by the Shamus family, it becamee very, very popular, and from that span out into Wizard World comic conventions, with new shows held every two or three weeks across the country.
Last week, Bleeding Cool reported that former Chief Marketing Officer of Wizard World and co-founder of the company, Stephen Shamus, had been fired alongside with a suit launched against him alleging fraud and the misappropriation of items worth $1 million. The suit alleged that Shamus had hired celebrities for shows at levels that made it unprofitable for Wizard World, as part of a conspiracy that would benefit him financially. And that he faked a contract stating Wizard owed him hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Shamus denies all charges of contention against him.
Along the way, he also states that Wizard World shows are not “pre-eminent” and that the shows are “well regarded”, that he had less power that the suit alleges and that he went to fewer shows personally than the suit alleges – though he did go first class.
He denies the substantive claim of the suit, that he set up deals with celebrities he had hired through Wizard World, to sign items for himself, that he would then get authenticted with Wizard World credentials and then sell privately, though friends and family, for profit.
He denies that the presentation of a contract letter (added at the bottom of the piece) which guarantees him a base salary of $150,000 a year, incentive payments and stock options, was fraudulent or fabricated, citing other Wizard World executives who were party to it. And that he denies he tried to delete all his Wizard World e-mails.
He does, however, admit he didn’t return his laptop to Wizard World after being fired.
After denying all charges, he also has registered a counter claim. In this he charges Wizard World with recovering unpaid wages, severance, commissions, stock options, interest and legal fees. He states that Wizard World offered him continued employment if he ignored the financial implications of the contract. That this gave him a panic attack that evening over not being paid what he was expecting, that put him in hospital and, on being released the following day, was fired by Wizard by e-mail, claiming a fraudulent criminal conspiracy had been uncovered.
And rather than suddenly presenting Wizard with this contract, that he has refularly brought it upo at Wizard and has been mollified repeatedly that Wizard would make it up to him.
Shamus is alleging he is owned $400,000 in unpaid salary, bonuses and interest, $125,000 in severance, stock options on 500,000 shares in Wizard and an unknown amount in commissions. And, all in all, is suing for over a million dollars in compensation from Wizard World.
This has only just begun. Bleeding Cool will continue reporting as the case develops.