Dowie and Stodder likely will spend time in a federal prison while another Dowie lieutenant, Steve Sugarman, who pleaded guilty in hopes of leniency, likely will get off with only his reputation besmirched. But the justice from this verdict feels hollow. While the outcome of this trial may be a warning for those doing business with government, it only reaffirms the suspicion that elected officials are above the law. Until the day that public officials are held accountable for their role in pilfering public money for their own use, it will continue to be open season on public funds. And that’s a crime.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsNo doubt Dowie’s cozy relationship with former Mayor James Hahn and his staff, for whom he provided endless amounts of free P.R. and political advice – even as he was overbilling on the $3 million-a-year DWP contract – played a part. But where are the charges against Hahn or his aides for letting this happen, perhaps for orchestrating it? The overbilling was only brought to light after City Controller Laura Chick – a crusader against waste in City Hall and no friend of the Hahn administration – started questioning the DWP’s contracts, particularly its deal with Fleishman-Hillard. A civil suit against the P.R. firm resulted in a nearly $6 million settlement, but neither that nor this week’s verdict will change the culture of corruption at City Hall until someone inside is held responsible. In theory, at least, the widespread investigation of “pay to play” in the Hahn administration is still open. But it now seems highly unlikely anything will ever come of it. WHAT’S most notable about Tuesday’s conviction of two public relations executives on charges of bilking the city of Los Angeles out of hundreds of thousands of dollars is that some of the real crooks in this swindle got away, scot-free. That’s not to say that Doug Dowie or John Stodder wasn’t guilty. There was damning evidence revealed during the five-week federal trial leading to the conviction of Dowie, the former head of the Los Angeles office of Fleishman-Hillard, an international public relations firm, and his lieutenant, Stodder. But they weren’t the creators of the game. They were simply the fall guys for City Hall’s long-standing practices of ripping off the public, most often using its bottomless money pit, the Department of Water and Power.