LAWFUEL – US Attorney News – The former managing partner of the Los Angeles office of the multinational public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard was sentenced today to 42 months in federal prison for submitting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent bills to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and other clients.
Douglas R. Dowie, 58, of West Hills, was sentenced this afternoon by United States District Judge Gary A. Feess. Following a lengthy sentencing hearing Judge Feess also ordered Dowie to pay a $15,000 fine.
Dowie’s co-defendant and number two person at Fleishman-Hillard’s Los Angeles office was also sentenced today. John Stodder, 51, of Palos Verdes Estates, was sentenced by Judge Feess to 15 months in prison.
Dowie and Stodder were found guilty by a federal jury last May. Dowie began working at Fleishman-Hillard in 1991, and he 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. Dowie was convicted of conspiracy and 14 counts of wire fraud. Stodder, who was a senior vice president and a partner at Fleishman-Hillard, 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 Fleishman-Hillard office in Los Angeles submitted more than $500,000 in fraudulent bills to the DWP and other clients from January 2000 through January 2004, Judge Feess concluded today. 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 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 approximately $15,000.
This case is the product of a 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. cooperated in the investigation.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Cheryl Murphy
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