HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Top Ad Exec Quits After Charge
Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jan 2004
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2004 Newsday Inc.
Author: Monty Phan, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


An Ogilvy & Mather executive who was one of two people accused Tuesday
of overbilling the federal government has resigned, the
Manhattan-based ad agency said yesterday.

Thomas Early, 48, of Rockville Centre, and Shona Seifert, 43, of
Southport, Conn., were charged with inflating billing costs related to
a $137 million yearly media campaign commissioned by the Office of
National Drug Control Policy. Early, who had been a senior partner and
finance director of the agency's Manhattan office, quit yesterday "in
order to devote his full energies to obtaining a full vindication in
this matter," according to an Ogilvy statement. Early and his
attorney, Laurence Urgenson, a partner in the Washington firm Kirkland
& Ellis, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Seifert, a former Ogilvy senior partner and executive group director
who is now president of the Manhattan agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, said
Tuesday she was "saddened and dismayed" by the charges but is
innocent. Seifert's attorney is Gregory Craig, a partner in the
Washington, D.C. law firm Williams & Connolly who led President Bill
Clinton's impeachment defense team in 1998.

Yesterday both pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Manhattan,
and Judge Richard Berman set their bond at $500,000 each and $25,000
in collateral. The two face one count of conspiracy and 10 counts of
false claims. If convicted, they face five years in prison on each
count and potentially millions of dollars in fines.

Prosecutors have accused Early, Seifert and unnamed others of
directing employees to falsify their time sheets and allowing vouchers
to be submitted to the government for work the agency didn't do in
connection with the drug policy office account. The contract was
originally awarded five years ago and has focused on print and TV
campaigns intended to warn young people about the dangers of illegal

In a statement, Ogilvy said it had been "unprepared" for the complex
accounting requirements when first awarded the contract but has
overhauled such procedures and cooperated with governmental inquiries
for the past three years, including the investigation into the Ogilvy
employees' alleged wrongdoings. In February 2002, the agency reached a
$1.8 million settlement with the Justice Department, which had accused
the company of overbilling.
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