Former Fleishman-Hillard executive John Stodder on Monday pleaded not guilty to charges he helped submit $250,000 in fraudulent bills to the city's Department of Water & Power, his attorney said.

Stodder, who faces 11 counts of felony wire fraud, managed a $3 million annual public relations contract with the DWP from 2002 to 2004 and was in charge of the public affairs practice group at Fleishman. He left the firm in early January.

A trial date is set for Aug. 2. U.S. District Judge Gary Feess, of the Central District of California, was assigned to the case. Stodder's attorney, Jan Handzlik, a partner at Howrey Simon Arnold & White, has said his client is "shocked and dismayed that the U.S. Attorney would file these serious charges against a mid-level manager at Fleishman Hillard, especially one who has been there such a short period of time."

The case is part of a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

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