Feds Indict Ex-Fleishman Exec

BOSTON John Stodder, a former senior vp at Omnicom Group’s Fleishman-Hillard, has been indicted on 11 counts of wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

The charges stem from an alleged scheme to overbill the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for public relations services. Each of the charges carries a maximum 20-year prison term. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Stodder is expected to surrender and appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles today.

FH’s office in Los Angeles held the account from 1998-2004; Stodder, 49, worked on the business from 2002-04. Stodder’s employment at FH was terminated on Jan. 5. Also fired were former general manager Doug Dowie and svp Steve Getzug [Adweek Online, Jan. 6].

Last July, FH was accused by the DWP of overbilling the utility more than $4.2 million from 1999-2004. The indictment, issued yesterday, alleges that Stodder was responsible for almost $250,000 in fradulent bills submitted to the DWP.

FH has said overbilling on the account could not have exceeded $600,000 [Adweek Online, Dec. 1].

The indictment also alleges that several other FH clients were overbilled. They are: the Port of Los Angeles, Gehry Partners and the Worldwide Church of God, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“We’re saddened and deeply disappointed that a former employee has been charged with wrong doing,” said Richard Kline, general manager and senior partner of FH in Los Angeles. He added that FH is “cooperating fully with investigating authorities.”

The prosecution is a joint effort of the offices of the U.S. Attorney and the L.A. County District Attorney.