PR executive cites new evidence in bid for retrial

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A public relations executive convicted of fraud for overbilling the city of Los Angeles is seeking a retrial, citing newly discovered evidence that he says shows the star witness against him had an undisclosed motive to lie.

The executive, John Stodder, was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2006 for overcharging the city’s Department of Water and Power for work done by his firm, Fleishman-Hillard. He was convicted of conspiring with his boss, Douglas Dowie. Both men are free on appeal.

According to court documents filed earlier this week, Stodder contends that prosecutors failed to disclose that Monique Moret, another Fleishman-Hillard employee who testified against him under a grant of immunity, had “a strong reason” to tell prosecutors what they wanted to hear: protecting her father from possible prosecution in another case.


Louis F. Moret, a longtime Los Angeles political figure, was involved in a separate criminal investigation, overseen by the same U.S. attorney’s office that prosecuted Stodder, about the same time.

In that case, Louis Moret came under scrutiny for his role as a “political mentor” to South Gate political boss Albert Robles, authorities have said.

Robles ultimately was convicted of conspiracy and corruption charges. Moret ended up being a witness in the case and was not prosecuted.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, dismissed Stodder’s allegations, saying that prosecutors were unaware of any connection between the cases.

Janet Levine, an attorney who negotiated the immunity agreement for Monique Moret, said: “I have no reason to question the government’s assessment.”

In the court papers filed with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Stodder’s attorney, Philip A. Trevino, said he learned about Louis Moret’s role in the Robles case from an article The Times published in June.


The article quoted a prosecutor in the Robles case as saying that Louis Moret “probably” could have been prosecuted as well. “But the evidence was fairly light, and we wanted to present the strongest case.”

Louis Moret, who was named to the board of Calpers in February 2008, America’s largest pension fund, has denied wrongdoing.

The government began investigating Fleishman-Hillard executives after a 2004 article in The Times alleged that the firm was overbilling the city.