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Former Ogilvy executive Early sentenced to 14 months for role in overbilling scandal

NEW YORK - Thomas Early, one of the former Ogilvy & Mather executives at the centre of the US anti-drugs account overbilling scandal, has been sentenced to 14 months in prison and fined $10,000 (£5,700).

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The sentence will also see him serving two years under supervision after he is released. He will begin his term on September 21.

Early was formerly finance director at Ogilvy & Mather's New York office. He was tried for 10 counts of fraud relating to billing on the US government's anti-drugs advertising account alongside Shona Seifert, a former director of Ogilvy & Mather. In February, both were found guilty, despite pleading innocent to all charges. Seifert, who resigned from her role as president of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York on February 28, is due to be sentenced today.

The prosecution told the court that the pair masterminded a scheme to overbill the Office of National Drug Control Policy by altering timesheets on the account in 1999. The evidence against Seifert included an email in which she said to colleagues "I'll wring the money out of [the ONDCP], I promise" and a Post-It note stuck to a timesheet for another client, saying "Put Huggies and Wings time on ONDCP".

Ogilvy won the $140m-a-year ONDCP contract in 1998. It settled the case with the US government in 2002, paying $1.8m but did not admit any wrongdoing in the matter.

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