Bill Grizack Simultaneously Worked for 3 Different S.F. Agencies Before Pleading Guilty to Fraud

By Patrick Coffee Comment

bill grizack

The long, winding “Catch Me If You Can” tale of convicted felon Bill Grizack grows more intriguing by the day.

For a period stretching from August of 2012 to last Thursday, he traveled across the country and left a trail of fraud at multiple agencies in his wake. Despite being indicted late last year by the State of North Carolina and intentionally defrauding at least three different agencies, Grizack continued to gain employment as a senior strategist working on legitimate pieces of business like AT&T and remained employed until the very moment news of his guilty plea broke last week.

We can now confirm that, in the weeks and months before he admitted to conning The Variable and McKinney in a North Carolina courtroom on March 3, Grizack was employed as a freelance strategist at San Francisco’s Venables Bell & Partners and Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

In fact, VB&P offered him a full-time job before realizing that he was about to become an admitted felon. An agency spokesperson tells us, “his offer of employment with us was revoked.” Other sources tell us that Grizack referred to himself as “Griz,” that the position on offer was that of strategy director, and that he “called in sick” at GS&P in order to work at VB&P, whose leadership was unaware of his employment with Goodby.

GS&P declined to comment for this post, but multiple sources close to the matter tell us that he worked as a freelance strategist on a major account there as recently as last month, if not later.

This was around the same time that he worked at the Bay Area office of Omnicom consultancy Interbrand. Our sources claim that he was only fired from Interbrand last week, and it would seem that, at some point over the past month or two, Grizack was simultaneously working for all three agencies. Not only did none of the involved parties realize that he was getting paid by their competitors…it’s also unclear whether they knew that he had been indicted for felony fraud in October 2015.

We have also received further information about Grizack’s role at Interbrand: he was senior director of strategy there on the AT&T account with a salary well over $200K. The Omnicom consultancy hired him in November 2015, which was approximately one month after charges were officially filed by the State of North Carolina on October 5, 2015. At the time, he gave his home address as West Hollywood, California…but he seems to have been living in the San Francisco area since he was (allegedly) fired by Dailey Advertising. Earlier this week Dailey gave us a statement that did not specify when or why Grizack’s employment was terminated beyond stating that “like most of the ad community, we were shocked by the reports of his previous actions.” His own LinkedIn profile claims that he worked there until September 2015.

According to the full indictment filed in North Carolina last year, Grizack did “knowingly and designedly with the intent to cheat and defraud obtain $165,000 of total gross pay, $22,500 of 401k matches and contributions, and an Audi Q7 … by means of false pretense which was calculated to deceive and did deceive.”

The indictment describes the false pretense as such: “The defendant presented to PAVE Advertising and Design, LLC d/b/a The Variable that several contracts were legitimate, negotiated, executed, and signed by representatives of Brown Forman and the Coca-Cola Company, when in fact said contracts were not legitimate, negotiated, executed, and signed by representatives of Brown Forman and the Coca-Cola Company. The value of the property described above was 100,000 or more.”

Grizack then hired attorney Bernard M. Desrosiers of Winston-Salem law firm Allman Spry Davis Leggett & Crumpler, P.A., who filed a “request for voluntary discovery” of all information related to the case on November 10th, 2015.

This was around the same time he was initially hired by Interbrand. We cannot determine at this moment whether the agency knew of the indictment pending against him.

Here is the state’s account of what it planned to prove at trial:

grizack charges

On December 16th, Grizack retained another attorney: Christopher R. Clifton of Winston-Salem’s Grace, Tisdale & Clifton, PA. The next and final document in the case was filed last Thursday. In it, Grizack admits his guilt and agrees to pay $135,000 to The Variable and $100,000 to McKinney Ventures as restitution for his crimes.

Here is the segment in which Grizack acknowledges his specific offenses. The doc also lists the maximum penalty for these three charges: 231 months in prison.

grizack charges 1

Finally, here is Grizack’s own signature along with those of his lawyer, the prosecutor and the deputy clerk of the superior court confirming his guilty plea.

grizack charges 2

As stated in the initial story, sentencing in this case is scheduled for June.

[Ed note: If you have worked with Bill Grizack or have more information about his case, please contact me at patrick.coffee@adweek.com or use the anonymous tip box.]
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