PulteGroup Inc. fired incoming COO Brandon Jones just two months after it announced he would replace Executive Vice President and COO John Chadwick.
Jones, who served as senior vice president for field operations, was set to assume his new position on Jan. 1, 2023.
Jones’ termination follows an independent investigation that found he had violated the company’s code of ethical business conduct, PulteGroup said in a press release.
The family of company founder William Pulte, who died in 2018, filed a lawsuit against Jones days before the firing, alleging he created a “sophisticated network of Twitter bots” to harass Pulte and his followers with fake user profiles, which included a dead Olive Hill, Kentucky, man, AI-generated profiles of men and women, a fictitious business journalist covering PulteGroup and other pseudonymous identities.
The Pulte family called for an independent investigation “firewalled off” from current executives to assess the extent to which Jones might have used company and shareholder resources.
Bill Pulte, William Pulte’s grandson and a former independent director, said in a release announcing the lawsuit that he believes Jones “held an eight-year grudge” from when he and his grandfather spearheaded an effort leading to the ouster of former CEO Richard Dugas in 2016. Bill Pulte also noted that he led an opposition in 2018 to the “expedited promotion” of Jones.
President and CEO Ryan Marshall will handle Jones’ responsibilities on an interim basis.