Grey Gets Additional Restitution

NEW YORK Grey Global Group will receive an additional $186,000 in restitution from a print production salesman convicted of inflating the agency’s print bills for the better part of the 1990s.

Birj Deckmejian, a former salesman for The Color Wheel, was sentenced on May 5 to three years of probation, but the complicated nature of the scheme delayed the judge’s decision on the extent of the fines.

Federal prosecutors testified on Friday that Grey has already reimbursed two of its clients, Brown & Williamson and Procter & Gamble, about $1.1 million. That $1.1 million is a fraction of the full scope of the scheme that operated between executives at Grey and Color Wheel, a New York print and graphics house, but it is the portion generated by the parts of the scam that involved Deckmejian.

Deckmejian monitored the more than $200,000 spent on “freebies” for Grey staffers. These included computers, Yankees’ World Series tickets, free print jobs for weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs, and all-expenses paid golf vacations. He also kept a running total of print jobs on which Color Wheel felt it had been underpaid, making up the excess by adding charges to jobs performed for other Grey clients. Color Wheel then billed back the costs and Grey’s clients ultimately footed the entire bill.

Deckmejian was convicted at trial of bid-rigging, mail fraud and making false statements to federal authorities in November 2003. Judge Thomas Griesa also confined Deckmejian to his home for the duration of his probation.

The sentence contrasts to that given to Mitch Mosallem, the former director of graphic services at Grey who was the architect of the scheme. Mosallem received 70 months in federal prison, but because he was wiped out financially by the case, authorities do not expect to recover any more money from him, even though they calculate he owed $247,000.

Thus, Deckmejian, may end up reimbursing the agency more than Mosallem. Deckmejian declined comment after the hearing, although he and his wife Lisa were clearly upset at the decision. Grey’s legal office did not return a call for comment.

Color Wheel owner Haluk Ergulec, also convicted last year, has paid the most money for the scandal: $1.1 million in restitution to Grey.

Some clients have not been reimbursed by Grey, Justice Department attorney Rebecca Meiklejohn reported to the court. Those include clients that have gone out of business or removed their accounts from Grey.