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Another Worker Indicts Executive in Billing Case

Following her boss to the stand, she testifies that Fleishman-Hillard's John Stodder issued instructions to falsify firm's DWP invoices.

April 15, 2006|John Spano | Times Staff Writer

A second worker has identified Fleishman-Hillard Inc. executive John Stodder as the man who issued instructions to falsify public relations billings to the city, a federal jury was told Friday.

Candice Campbell, who worked in the international public relations firm's Los Angeles office for 10 years, testified Friday against Stodder and his former boss, Douglas Dowie, who are on trial for conspiracy and fraud.

They are accused of padding bills to the city's Department of Water and Power to help their employer collect $325,000.

Fleishman agreed to repay almost $6 million to the DWP for the false billings. The final $2.2-million payment was made Nov. 10.

Campbell followed her boss, Monique Moret, to the witness stand. Moret was cross-examined for 16 hours over three days after she repeatedly testified, under immunity, that she "pumped up" and "wrote up" bills for work not performed over the course of two years at the Los Angeles office. Moret was in charge of the $3-million-a-year DWP account.

Dowie, a former executive with the Los Angeles Daily News, was a powerful City Hall insider and advisor to former Mayor James K. Hahn. Stodder, also a former journalist, worked for Hahn's predecessor, Mayor Richard Riordan.

Stodder says the billings were the work of Moret and other rogue employees. Dowie says Fleishman-Hillard fired him over the billings to hide a larger conspiracy involving influence peddling at City Hall, and has alleged as much in a separate wrongful-termination lawsuit.

Campbell, like Moret, testified that, when the office fell short of monthly revenue projections, it engaged in creative accounting, claiming and collecting thousands of dollars for hours that were never worked. Both testified that they occasionally went back to Fleishman-Hillard staffers to ask them to inflate the hours they had already submitted to help meet the monthly quotas.

"They seemed a little uncomfortable, but they never said anything," Campbell testified Friday.

The three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess resumes Tuesday.

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