L.A. Times Staff Writer Ted Rohrlich has responded to my request for a comment about the letter I published last night from Doug Dowie’s attorney Michael Faber:
Dear Mr. Frey,
Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
I am not willing to comment on matters involving confidential sources, real or imagined. If I were, who would agree to speak with me in confidence?
I would, however, respectfully point out that I did not convict Mr. Dowie. Mr. Dowie was convicted by a federal court jury aware that Monique Moret testified under a grant of immunity.
Los Angeles Times
Indeed, and as I said this morning, jury verdicts are generally entitled to respect, even though they can be mistaken. But the jury — and more importantly for my purposes, the public — didn’t know that Ms. Moret’s father was being investigated by the feds, and that he was never charged despite evidence that he was involved in a criminal conspiracy.
Meanwhile, Tim McGarry provides a link to an L.A. Times story containing the following passage:
Fred Muir, a former Times reporter and editor, testified that he quit his job at the corporation’s Los Angeles office in protest over the alleged fraud, for which the company has refunded the city of Los Angeles more than $6 million. He said he was directed to file false documents by his boss, John Stodder Jr.
“At the direction of John Stodder, there were occasions when I believe I may have written up some of those bills. It was largely in ignorance of what I was doing,” Muir testified in federal court Wednesday.
Stodder and Douglas Dowie, a political power broker and former head of Fleishman-Hillard’s Los Angeles office, are on trial for the alleged scheme to overbill the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Port of Los Angeles, the city’s airport agency and several private businesses.
The scandal was at the heart of allegations of influence-peddling at City Hall, which played a central role in the defeat of former mayor and Dowie confidant James K. Hahn by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Unlike other prosecution witnesses, Muir testified without having been granted immunity from prosecution. And unlike others, he said he quit in protest over what he called improper billing.
“I came to my own determination that it was fraudulent, and that it was wrong, and that I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Muir said.
Under cross-examination, Muir testified that he wanted more than the $170,000 a year he received at his hiring, that he felt he had lost a bonus because of an unfair performance review by Stodder, and that he had developed a strong distaste for Dowie.
This undercuts to some extent this passage from Mr. Faber’s letter:
A key prosecution witness in the trial of Mr. Dowie was a former Times editor named Fred Muir. Muir had left the Times and gone on to Fleishman-Hillard, but he maintained close relationships with his former Times colleagues. Muir testified under oath that after clashing with Mr. Dowie at Fleishman, he assisted his former colleagues in the preparation of the original story. He also admitted under cross examination that he had personally over billed clients while at Fleishman. The Times, which covered every day of the trial, never reported on those portions of Muir’s testimony. Giving Muir anonymity to help him settle a score, and then not reporting key elements of his testimony was an egregious conflict of interest on the part of the newspaper.
I’ll let the interested reader compare Faber’s allegations to the story, and determine for himself the extent to which the story undercuts Faber’s claims. The story clearly does report a conflict between Muir and Dowie, and Muir’s participation in overbilling.
However, the story does not ever say that Muir was one of the original anonymous sources for Rohrlich’s original story — even though, according to Faber, Muir admitted this under oath, which would presumably render any confidentiality agreement moot.
Thanks to Tim for the link.