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Juror Describes Dowie as Arrogant

Times Staff Writer

Jurors considering whether former political power broker Douglas Dowie was guilty of conspiracy and fraud saw him as an “arrogant” man who “didn’t think there was any way he was going to get caught,” one of the panelists said Wednesday.

A day after Dowie and his deputy at public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard were convicted in a scheme to overbill L.A. taxpayers, juror John W. Mann said the panel understood that its job was not to decide whether City Hall corruption -- the “pay to play” allegations of trading political contributions for city contracts -- existed.

Rather, jurors limited themselves to determining whether Dowie, who ran the firm’s Los Angeles operation, and co-defendant John Stodder Jr. were guilty, he said.

A critical part of the government’s case was a cache of e-mails about billings that Stodder and Dowie sent to underlings.

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“A number of e-mails we read indicated there were guilty parties higher up the ladder than Dowie or Stodder,” Mann said. “We were definitely wondering why there weren’t other indictments.”

Mann added that he understood “damage control is one of [Fleishman’s] specialties.”

Mark Beck, the Los Angeles lawyer representing the St. Louis-based Fleishman-Hillard, said the firm spent thousands of hours investigating the case and concluded that “the supposition that somebody outside of Los Angeles must have known [of the fraud] has no basis.”

The e-mails Mann cited were found by Fleishman legal investigators and turned over to prosecutors, along with the reports of the company’s extensive investigation of the case, Beck said. The firm was not charged in the case but paid nearly $6 million to the city last year to settle a lawsuit that alleged overbilling.

Dowie was convicted of 14 counts of wire fraud and one of conspiracy. The criminal case helped spur reforms and was a factor in the election of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last year.

The jurors’ names were not made public. But Mann, 34, of Pasadena, decided to talk about the case. He is married and works in television marketing for Bravo.

The defense tried to undercut the prosecution by suggesting that Steve Sugerman, a former Los Angeles deputy mayor whom Dowie recruited to work at Fleishman-Hillard, pleaded guilty and turned on Dowie to avoid prison.

Asked why he testified against his former mentor, Sugerman replied: “For starters, I was guilty. I decided to take responsibility for what happened at Fleishman-Hillard and my role in it. I believe it was the right thing to do.”

“That was huge,” Mann said, “a critical moment.” Jurors were struck with Sugerman’s simplicity and honesty, he said.

Mann, who said he’s written film and TV screenplays, added that his jury experience provided him some inspiration. “I got some snippets. Some of the defense attorneys and jurors were great character studies.”


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