Admen Face Felony Charge

Two Los Angeles ad agency principals have been charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing at least $800,000 from a client.
Edward Moiselle and Allan Hochman, principals of MoiselleHochman Advertising, in Century City, Calif., are accused of stealing “hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions, consulting fees and markups” from golf equipment company The Secret L.P., according to court records.
Moiselle and Hochman, who are currently free on $250,000 and $800,000 bail, respectively, are scheduled to appear Aug. 4 in Beverly Hills Municipal Court, where a preliminary hearing date will be set for their criminal trial. Both have pleaded not guilty to the felony charge. They face up to five years in prison if convicted.
A separate civil case was decided in June when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the defendants’ conduct was “intentional, fraudulent and undertaken with clear intent to harm [the client].” The court ordered them and their shop to pay more than $27 million in compensatory and punitive damages, court records show. David R. Shaub, attorney for both men in the civil case, said he has filed a “writ of mandate” to overturn the judge’s decision.
Shaub, who is representing Hochman in the criminal case, said both men are “looking forward to defending themselves” in court.
“This is a business dispute that arose over a squabble over fees, commissions and other compensation,” said Shaub. “The whole case arises out of an interpretation of a contract between the partners.” Part of the contract was oral, he said.
Tarzana, Calif.-based The Secret hired MoiselleHochman (then known as Moiselle/Dorsey/Hochman Advertising) about two years ago for advertising, marketing and management services, court documents said. Moiselle and Hochman allegedly were given an opportunity to purchase stock in The Secret at a discounted rate in lieu of compensation for their services. Once they had purchased the stock, giving them a 28 percent share in the golf product company, they allegedly used their position to write checks on behalf of The Secret to pay for commissions, fees and markups and withdraw money for cash payments, court records show.
The Secret, which markets a patented golf instructional aid and counts Hall of Fame baseball catcher Johnny Bench as a major shareholder, has used pro golfer Greg Norman as its celebrity endorser in infomercials that have aired on cable networks. David Castleman, an attorney for plaintiffs Sandy Lang and Peter Albertsson, co-founders of The Secret, said Moiselle and Hochman had “minimal input” into the infomercials’ production. It is unclear what other ads the agency produced for The Secret.
Moiselle has been involved in West Coast advertising since the 1970s. After running his own agency for several years, he teamed up with Hochman and Michael Dorsey in 1995. The agency is not currently operating, and Moiselle and Hochman are working as consultants, said Shaub.
The agency’s former clients, including Lamps Plus and Armstrong Garden Centers, are now being handled by Mosaic Advertising in Sherman Oaks, Calif., which is not connected with MoiselleHochman.