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BRIEFLY / TOBACCO

Firm Admits Growing High-Nicotine Tobacco

January 24, 1998|Associated Press

An Oakland biotechnology company pleaded guilty in federal court to growing high-nicotine tobacco secretly in foreign countries for a U.S. tobacco company. DNA Plant Technology Corp. pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy, giving the Justice Department its first conviction in its investigation of the tobacco industry. No sentencing date was set. Arthur Finnel, the company's vice president and chief executive, and his lawyers declined to comment further, saying the government had asked them to remain silent while the investigation continues. In court papers filed Jan. 7, federal prosecutors cited the tobacco company as an unindicted co-conspirator and refused to name it. But individuals familiar with the investigation said it was Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., the third-largest U.S. cigarette company and manufacturer of the Kool, Viceroy and Raleigh brands.

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