Despite his absence from the proceedings, Richard Pleffner has emerged as a major figure in the US trial of two former Ogilvy & Mather advertising executives.

Pleffner is the White House whistleblower who triggered the investigation of alleged overbilling by the agency on its Office of National Drug Control Policy account.

On trial are ex-senior partners Shona Seifert and Thomas Early, accused of conspiring to defraud the US government by falsifying time sheets to make up a $3 million revenue shortfall (€2.3m, £1.6m) on the $1 billion account.

In evidence for the defense, former ONDCP media director Allan Levitt described Pleffner as a bureaucratic nit-picker who was too hard on the agencies that developed the program's anti-drug advertising.

Claimed Levitt: "Some [agencies] stopped doing work for [the Partnership for a Drug-Free America] because of withholdings [of payment]."

It also emerged that Pleffner tried to sue O&M under a federal law that enables whistleblowers to potentially share in any money recovered from cases of fraud against the government.

But the judge in charge of proceedings in the New York courtroom refused to admit these claims as defense evidence.

The trial continues.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff