Indicted Ad Executives Plead Not Guilty

NEW YORK Two former executives of WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather entered not guilty pleas to charges stemming from a grand jury indictment surrounding the agency’s work for the White House Office of National Control Drug Policy.

Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman in New York on Wednesday, Shona Seifert, formerly senior partner and executive group director at Ogilvy in New York, and Thomas Early, who resigned today as senior partner and director of finance for the agency, both pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The government alleges that the two, along with at least two unnamed co-conspirators and 16 employees, were part of a scheme to overbill the government to cover a $3 million revenue shortfall in 1999 that prosecutors say was discovered by the agency’s internal analysis [Adweek Online, Feb. 6].

Seifert’s and Early’s lawyers were unavailable for comment.

Seifert left the agency in January 2002 for her current position as president of Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York.

The parties will appear in Berman’s court on Feb. 13 for a pre-trial conference.