Clyde B. Pitchford Jr. called his secretary from New York just before he disappeared last month and said he was shipping a $500,000 cash loan to Richmond by armored truck, according to a source close to the investigation of Pitchford, who is being sought on embezzlement charges.
The missing stockbroker asked his personal secretary, Karen White, to "meet a Brink's truck at the bank and make sure there was enough room in his safe-deposit boxes" for the money, the source said.
But the money never arrived here, the source said.
In another report, Reeves Mahoney, a Norfolk lawyer retained by Pitchford's parents, said he had been told that Pitchford put $450,000 in cash in a safe-deposit box at the Sherry Netherland Hotel in New York shortly before he disappeared.
The flamboyant 31-year-old account executive with E.F. Hutton & Co. here was last seen Feb. 12 at the Sherry Netherland, where he was staying in New York while attempting to borrow money to cover mounting debts, the source said.
Mahoney said that Pitchford "has the only key to that box, and hotel employes have been told to call the NYPD if anyone tries to use it."
He said the cash "obviously didn't come from a bank -- you get cash like that from private parties."
The other source added that "Clyde didn't get a loan in New York. I don't know where the cash came from."
Joseph Irving, the front office manager of the Sherry Netherland, the posh Fifth Avenue hotel where Pitchford often stayed on New York visits, said he had been instructed by the missing persons bureau of the New York Police Department not to discuss the Pitchford matter. Irvin said only that "like all hotels, we have security boxes for our guests."
A spokesman for Brink's Inc. in New York said there is no record of a request from Pitchford to transport cash to Richmond.
"If we got such a call," said Murray Massover, manager of Brink's Broadway office, "and if the person didn't have an account with us, we'd ask them to submit the request in writing."
Pitchford was indicted here Monday on four counts of embezzling money from his clients at Hutton, and prosecutors say more charges are likely. A Hutton spokseman in New York said today that Pitchford was "terminated" as of Feb. 28, but that the brokerage house will "protect our clients."
Sources said today that two men came to Richmond about the time Pitchford disappeared in connection with arranging a loan for him.
The sources gave differing versions of the encounters: One said the men confronted Pitchford at the exclusive Commonwealth Club and engaged in "an unfriendly conversation." The other said the men called at Pitchford's apartment-office the day after he was last seen in New York and told White that they had arranged a $5 million loan for Pitchford.
White, who worked as a $15,000-a-year secretary out of Pitchford's adjoining penthouse apartments here, has returned to her parents' home in Norfolk since Pitchford's disappearance and could not be reached for comment today.
Late today, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Blackwell N. Shelley, acting at the request of four Richmond banks, appointed a trustee to oversee the affairs of Pitchford and Rex Group Inc., of which Pitchford is secretary-treasurer.
The judge acted after Andrea G. Hoffman, an assistant vice president of the Bank of Virginia, testified that two of Pitchford's partners in Rex Group, State Sen. A. Joe Canada Jr. (R-Virginia Beach) and former Olympic equestrian Hugh Wiley of Fluvanna County, Va., signed statements saying that their names had been forged on documents guaranteeing loans to Rex Group.
Hoffman produced financial statements submitted by Pitchford that said Rex Group owned 13,737 shares in the Florida Center Bank of Orlando, which Pitchford valued at $5 billion.
"Did you make this loan?" the judge asked Hoffman. When she said she did, he asked, "Did you believe this financial statement by any stretch of the imagination?"
Hoffman said the loans were made primarily on the basis of the guarantees signed by Canada, Wiley and George H. Morris, a New Jersey horseman who is a director of Rex.
The financial statement, she said, was submitted by Pitchford long after the loan was made.
When Bank of Virginia saw the inflated value of the Florida bank stock, "That's when we started to call in the loans," Hoffman said.
Slayton Dabney Jr., an attorney for Bank of Virginia, said "we hope it [the Florida bank stock] is worth $5 million, but there is no reason to believe it is." Dabney said a spokesman for the Florida bank said "very few shares were turned over to Pitchford."
A source said Pitchford was placed on the bank's board of the directors in October after he presented a certified check for $5 million as part of a takeover effort. Pitchford was removed from the bank board Monday night, a bank spokesman said.
In the financial statements introduced at the bankruptcy hearing, Pitchford listed his personal assets at $2,357,180 and those of the Rex Group at $5,003,115,000.
Among his personal assets, according to the July 1985 statement, were $1.1 million worth of real estate, including condominiums in North Palm Beach, Fla., and Virginia Beach that he owns with Canada; $470,000 in furnishings in his Richmond penthouses and his parents' home in Norfolk, four automobiles worth a total of $198,000, including a $135,000 1983 Rolls-Royce that has since been repossessed.
He listed his annual income at $197,796, including $120,000 from Hutton.
In addition to the Florida bank stock, Rex Group holdings listed by Pitchford included more than a dozen jumping horses from France, Germany, Ireland and the United States worth $1.7 million.
Dabney said the horses were "supposed to exist at various locations around the East Coast, but we're not sure where."
He added that he was "also unsure about the location of some of the other assets."
Judge Shelley told Dabney to instruct the trustee he appointed, Douglas O. Tice Jr., to "get his saddle and go to Florida."