LOS ANGELES: The trial of former Fleishman-Hillard executives Doug Dowie and John Stodder has been moved back to November to give defense lawyers time to review documents.
The trial, which was scheduled to start August 2nd, has been delayed until November 15th after lawyers for the defendants asked for more time last week to review emails and other communications. Both men are charged with wire fraud and conspiracy as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged overbilling by the agency?s Los Angeles office on both public and private accounts.
While the maximum sentence for the offenses could land Dowie in jail for upwards of 20 years, LA-based Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson said a shorter term was more likely if he is found guilty.
?Probably around three years or so would be more realistic,? she said.
Legal experts are also suggesting that former Fleishman SVP Steve Sugerman, who agreed to plead guilty to related charges last week, could face only probation time if the information he provides as a government witness is strong enough.
Sugerman?s lawyer, Ellyn Garofalo, stressed that ?Steve is accepting full responsibility for his role at Fleishman-Hillard, and he is, and has been, cooperating with the government.?
Sugerman, who left Fleishman to form his own agency, Sugerman Communications Group, has also met with mixed reactions from clients. Some, like the Pacific Maritime Association, are hesitant to continue working with the agency.
?We haven?t decided,? said PMA COO Steve Hennessey. ?We?re going to evaluate the information.?
Others are firmly committed to sticking by Sugerman and continuing their contracts.
?Steve did the right thing for accepting responsibility and I think he did the right thing for leaving Fleishman,? said Steve Soboroff, head of land development Playa Vista, a Sugerman Communications client. ?There are a lot of people who make mistakes but very few people who accept responsibility. I respect Steve for doing it.?