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University of Utah exec resigns after FOX 13 exposes career of widespread lies

Christopher Massimine
Posted at 6:28 PM, Aug 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 21:07:45-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A University of Utah executive resigned Monday, weeks after the FOX 13 Investigates team uncovered a series of grandiose lies about his prior work history.

FOX 13 INVESTIGATES: High-paid University of Utah executive lied on resume, published fake articles

In a statement of resignation, Christopher Massimine, the managing director of Pioneer Theatre Company, claims he has been battling mental illness as the reason for stepping down, but did admit to "a fair amount of truth" to reports of his misrepresentation of work history.
The statement says Massimine's resignation is effective Aug. 20.

Massimine, 35, was hired in 2019 and earned more than $200,000 per year in donor and taxpayer-funded salary and benefits.

In his job application with the university, Massimine claimed to have served as a “creative consultant with several leading companies and their brands.”

However, FOX 13 found Massimine had stretched the truth, or lied outright, about many of his prior work experiences.

READ: University of Utah names new managing director in response to FOX 13 investigation

Massimine said there were "discrepancies" with reporting on his work history, but added, "Regardless, I take responsibility for errors in my resume but stand by my work product throughout my career."

When hired, the university touted Massimine as a two-time Tony Award nominee, although a spokesperson with Tony Award Productions told FOX 13 he never received a nomination.

Massimine told the school he had been awarded "Humanitarian of the Year" from an organization that was later found to not exist. He even took photographs of himself wearing a medal that could be purchased online for just over four dollars.

FOX 13 discovered Massimine used taxpayer money to pay for the trip to Washington D.C., accepting the fake award from the fake organization.

"In the wake of your news report, I was angry," said Matt Ivan Bennett, the former assistant business manager of Pioneer Theatre Company. "He may have defrauded the company... Bottom line, to me that is grounds for termination."

FOX 13 INVESTIGATES: University of Utah executive caught lying about public finances, but remains employed

On his resume, Massimine shared that he had received awards for Old Spice advertising promotions.

Wieden+Kennedy, the advertising agency in charge of producing Old Spice commercials, confirmed Massimine never worked on those ads.

Massimine also claimed to have earned a master's degree from New York University, a claim the university denies.

In an interview with the New York Times, Massimine's wife said "her husband thought he had earned both a master's and a bachelor's degree, until KSTU (FOX 13) reported he had not."

In his resignation letter, Massimine says he went on the Family and Medical Leave Act in May "for in-patient treatment of my deteriorating mental health and suicidal thoughts."

He added he's been batting mental illness and that "this is the first time that many of my friends and colleagues will hear of my dilemma."

While acknowledging his work history errors, Massimine offered what he believes to be successes while at the University of Utah, including claims of doubling fund raising efforts and leading operations for the theater's "most successful single ticket selling play 'The Play That Goes Wrong.'"

"I look forward to working hard, and making meaningful contributions in my future employment," said Massimine. "In the meantime, I remain a present, attentive, and loving husband, father, and steadfast advocate for the arts."

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