Guilty plea in Fleishman case *

Now we know who one of the key government witnesses will be against Dowie Dowie and John Stodder, the former Fleishman-Hillard executives charged with fraudulent billngs and conspiracy. Steve Sugerman, a Westwood PR executive who once oversaw the DWP account for Fleishman, was charged today with three counts of wire fraud and pleaded guilty, promising to cooperate fully with prosecutors — as he apparently has been for the past six months. The L.A. Business Journal website says that Sugerman admitted in a plea agreement that he inflated bills on the DWP contract by $120,000, while under the direction of Dowie. Sugerman faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison, but his actual sentence will be determined when he appears in court on July 5. Before Sugerman went to work at Fleishman in 1997, he was director of communications for then-mayor Richard Riordan. Since starting his own public relations business in Westwood Village, his highest profile client has been Playa Vista. His attorney says that Sugerman left Fleishman out of discomfort at the way the DWP contract was handled. * Clarification: I'm told that Stodder didn't start at Fleishman until after Sugerman left in 2002, so I guess he couldn't testify directly about Stodder's role at Fleishman. LAT

Updated throughout

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