Patrick J. Pespas, breakout star of HBO’s ‘Telemarketers,’ reported missing
Patrick J. Pespas, the breakout star of the recent HBO docuseries “Telemarketers,” has been missing since Friday, according to one of the series’ co-directors.
On Saturday, Adam Bhala Lough, who helmed “Telemarketers” along with Sam Lipman-Stern, posted to X that Pespas has been missing since Friday. He is thought to be driving a white Mustang with New Jersey plates.
As of Monday, according to another post from Bhala Lough, Pespas is still missing. In a series of updates over the weekend, the director said that Pespas, 54, may have been seen leaving a bar in Pittsburgh around 10 p.m. Saturday. (Bhala Lough declined The Times’ request for an interview.)
Lt. Matthew Gerould with the Easton, Pa., Police Department told The Times on Monday they have not been able to confirm the Pittsburgh sighting and do not believe it to be accurate. Authorities believe Pespas is most likely still in the Easton area or in New Jersey.
“Telemarketers” sees Pespas transformed from a drug addict whose unlikely skills on the phone make him a call-center hero to a homespun investigative journalist following the money as it goes from donors to the companies soliciting the funds and the sketchy charities they represent.
Lipman-Stern first met Pespas while working at a telemarketing firm as a teenager in the early 2000s, videotaping the wild goings-on in the office. It was Pespas who encouraged Lipman-Stern to dig deeper into what was happening with the money being raised by the company Civic Development Group, also known as CDG, on behalf of various charities, with most of the funds going back to the company. When Bhala Lough, a cousin of Lipman-Stern’s who worked as a documentary filmmaker, joined the project later, he was immediately taken by the onscreen chemistry between Pespas and Lipman-Stern.
The amateur sleuths behind HBO’s docuseries took their investigation of telemarketing scams to Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Here’s what happened next.
“We ended up honing in on the buddy movie trope because Pat was such a great character. And Sam was obviously the Robin to his Batman,” Bhala Lough told The Times in advance of the series’ August finale. “ When I came onto the project, Sam did not know where Pat was. He was like, ‘The last I heard, Pat was pumping gas on the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border.’ And I was like, ‘Really? That’s awesome. Let’s go find him.’”
They soon found Pespas, who was caring for his ailing wife, and picked their investigations back up with a newfound intensity around 2020. In the intervening years, telemarketing companies had moved from fronting for charities to political action committees, which have even looser regulations.
Pespas remained an engaging screen presence even while committing blunders in the investigation, as when he calls the national head of the Fraternal Order of Police by the wrong name and misses out on a potentially key interview. Ultimately, Pespas made his way to Congress for a meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
“You see how happy he is on these investigations,” said filmmaker Benny Safdie, an executive producer on the project. “The best moment is when his wife says to him, ‘You’re happy, right?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, it’s the best.’ That little crack and you’re just like, ‘Oh, my God. This is so unbelievable for Pat.’
“The fact that the documentary has to deal with Pat makes you feel really close to him, and then you trust him too,” said Safdie. “You feel like it’s really good for him to do this, and you’re rooting for him.”
In his initial post from Saturday, Bhala Lough asked the public to send tips to email@example.com. Easton Police have asked anybody with information on Pespas’ whereabouts to call 911.
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