Handcuffed O&M Duo in 'Overbilling' Court Appearance

08 January 2004

Finance Director Early Resigns from Agency

Thomas Early (48), a senior partner and financial director of Ogilvy & Mather, New York, resigned his position with the agency on Wednesday -- the same day he and former O&M colleague Shona Siefert (43) appeared handcuffed in a New York District Court to answer charges of defrauding the US government.

Early and Siefert (a onetime O&M executive group director and senior partner, now president of TBWA/Chiat/Day's office in New York) are jointly charged with inflating Ogilvy's labor costs from May 1999 through April 2000 on the $145 million (€115.09m; £79.93m) account of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The defendants are individually charged on a single count of conspiracy and ten counts of false claims. Each faces up to 100 months in jail if found guilty on all counts. Bail of $25,000 was granted in both cases conditional on the surrender of their passports.

According to federal prosecutors, the duo directed certain O&M employees to revise already completed timesheets for work on the ONDCP account, in each case increasing these beyond the hours actually worked; also to log a specified amount of time regardless of whether they had actually worked it.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges. According to a statement from O&M, Early "decided to resign in order to devote his full energies to obtaining a full vindication in this matter."

Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff