Department of Justice seal U.S. Department of Justice

Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California


United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-059

Return to the 2006 Press Release Index

Return to the Home Page
PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947

FORMER CHIEF OF FLEISHMAN-HILLARD'S LOS ANGELES OFFICE GUILTY IN SCHEME TO OVERBILL FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS WORK

Second Partner at Firm also Convicted in Conspiracy to Cheat Los Angeles


Los Angeles, CA - The former managing partner of the Los Angeles office of public relations giant Fleishman-Hillard was convicted today on federal conspiracy and fraud charges in relation to the submission of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent bills to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Douglas R. Dowie, 58, of West Hills, who began working at Fleishman-Hillard in 1991, acted as a senior vice president, senior partner and then general manager of the firm's Los Angeles office until he was placed on leave in July 2004. A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Dowie of conspiracy and 14 counts of wire fraud.

Also found guilty today was John Stodder, a 50-year-old resident of Palos Verdes Estates, who was a senior vice president and a partner at Fleishman-Hillard. Stodder was in charge of the Los Angeles office's "public affairs" practice group from May 2002 until he left the firm in January 2005. Stodder was convicted of conspiracy and 11 counts of wire fraud.

The evidence presented during a 5-week trial showed that the Fleishman-Hillard office in Los Angeles submitted well over $300,000 in fraudulent bills to the DWP and other clients from January 2000 through January 2004. Several other Fleishman-Hillard clients the Port of Los Angeles, Gehry Partners LLP and the World Wide Church of God also were overbilled as part of the scheme.

As part of the scheme to defraud the DWP and the other clients, Dowie sent an e-mail to Stodder in January 2003 in which Dowie asked if they could "pad" the DWP bill by $30,000. In response, Stodder told Dowie that $30,000 was "more than the system could bear," but that another Fleishman-Hillard employee had informed Stodder that they could "slip through another $15k without incurring too much more scrutiny." Later that month, Dowie and Stodder caused that other Fleishman-Hillard employee to increase the number of hours billed to DWP to fraudulently overcharge the agency $6,855.

United States District Judge Gary A. Feess is expected to sentence the defendants later this year. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in federal prison, and each count of wire fraud carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison.

The case is the product of an ongoing, joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is a collaborative effort between the United States Attorney's Office and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Fleishman-Hillard, Inc. has cooperated in the investigation.

#####

Release No. 06-059

Return to the 2006 Press Release Index

Return to the Home Page