Media people

Not your average holiday blog

John Stodder, the former Fleishman-Hillard executive whose wire fraud and conspiracy conviction is on appeal, blogs about the pressure of facing Christmas with a prison sentence hanging over your head, though somewhat less dauntingly so than last year.

A year ago, I thought I was going spend this Christmas in a prison camp while the people who gained various benefits from my prosecution would be free to enjoy lavish holidays. I thought I would miss my sonís last year in high school. I would, of course, have to give up my job and leave my wife having to scramble to keep my family from a desperate situation.

To enjoy Christmas 2006 required all my powers of denial. I did take a nice picture. But that was a moment created outside of me, by the sea, wind and sun. Inside, I was edgy and angry.

Now, a year later, Iím free pending appeal thanks to the wisdom of the Ninth Circuit; and will be free for awhile, perhaps forever. Renewed freedom opened so many doors. For example, my son wrote a musical for his senior project. I got to watch the staged reading of it last week ó and it was incredible....

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Timing is everything. It could turn out I will still have to spend a year in Tracy at some point in the future. I believe in my innocence. I believe in what justice should mean, and I will never stop fighting for it. But if my appeal doesnít turn out like I expect? Not like I want to, but if I had to, I could handle the stretch in 2009 or 2010. My son will be more independent. Other things in my life will reach a certain balance that Iím still trying to create. Iíve been given time to overcome the reckless destruction of my previous career and to get a new one off the ground.

Doug Dowie, Stodder's former boss at the Los Angeles office of Fleishman-Hillard, is also out pending appeal.


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