No Charges Yet in Tobacco Probe
Justice Department officials are nearing a decision to end their criminal investigation of the tobacco industry without charges but are debating whether the evidence they gathered can now be used to prepare a civil lawsuit, a senior department official sa
A decision to close the criminal case has been anticipated for several months. Among subjects the investigation looked into was whether industry executives lied either to Congress or the Food and Drug Administration about their knowledge of nicotine's addictiveness or how it was used in the manufacture of cigarettes.
The congressional testimony from tobacco executives was delivered April 14, 1994, and the statements to the FDA were made as late as June of that year. In both cases, the five-year statute of limitations ran out this year without charges being filed.
Attorney General Janet Reno has authorized the department's civil division to prepare a lawsuit to recover billions of dollars spent by federal health insurance programs to treat tobacco-related illnesses.