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Former PR and newspaper exec Douglas Dowie ordered to begin prison sentence next month

January 7, 2011 |  5:04 pm

Former public relations and newspaper executive Douglas R. Dowie has lost the appeal of his conviction for defrauding taxpayers and must begin serving his 3 1/2-year prison sentence next month, his attorney said Friday.

Dowie's padding of charges to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power from 2000 to 2003 bilked the city of hundreds of thousands of dollars and rocked the municipal hierarchy under former Mayor James K. Hahn with an ethics scandal.

Dowie, 61, was a confidant of the former mayor when, as head of the Los Angeles office of the PR firm Fleishman-Hillard, he ordered subordinates to overcharge the DWP for services to the tune of $50,000 a month, witnesses at his 2006 trial testified.

In 2004, the firm paid the city $6 million to settle a lawsuit alleging overbilling, primarily to the DWP.

Dowie and co-defendant John Stodder Jr., 54, who was given a 15-month sentence, have been free pending appeals of their fraud convictions.

A panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in June 2007 that their appeals raised substantial questions of law and fact that could result in reversal, a new trial or a punishment short of prison time.

Last month, however, the appeals court upheld the convictions and sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Gary Feess to decide when the men would be sent to prison.

Dowie’s attorney in a related civil case, Michael Joseph Faber, said Feess has ordered the men to surrender to law enforcement Feb. 4.

Dowie, a former managing editor at the Daily News of Los Angeles, has asked the 9th Circuit to reconsider its Dec. 2 ruling, but Faber said he wasn’t sure whether that could further delay the start of his sentence.

-- Carol J. Williams