FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, JANUARY 23, 1998
PLANT COMPANY PLEADS GUILTY IN TOBACCO FRAUD INVESTIGATION
WASHINGTON, D.C.--DNA Plant Technology Corporation (DNAP) pleaded guilty
today to one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to violate the Tobacco Seed Export
law, the Department of Justice announced. Sentencing was set for a
The plea is the first criminal conviction in the Department's continuing
investigation of the tobacco industry. As part of its plea agreement,
DNAP agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation.
The Department's Fraud Section and the U. S. Attorney's office for
the District of Columbia said DNAP pleaded guilty before Chief Judge Norma
Holloway Johnson to a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia charging it with conspiring to send tobacco seed to
several foreign countries without a federal permit (18 U.S.C., Sec.
DNAP, based in Oakland, California, is a biotechnology company that
develops and improves various plant varieties through genetic engineering and
advanced breeding technique".
According to the information, DNAP entered into a contract in 1983 with a
United States tobacco company (which, as an unindicted co-conspirator, the
government declined to name as a matter of policy), to grow and improve
high-nicotine lines of tobacco.
The information charged that DNAP conspired with the tobacco company and
its Brazilian affiliate to violate a law that prohibited the export of tobacco
seed from the United States without a permit. It charged that
employees of DNAP and the tobacco companies, from 1984 through 1991, conspired
to illegally export tobacco seeds to Brazil and a number of other countries to
develop tobacco with a high nicotine content The law prohibiting such exports
was repealed in 1991.
The government said employees of DNAP and the tobacco company
illegally shipped the seed by air express or courier and hid it on themselves
to smuggle into Brazil while traveling.
One of the tobacco company's goals, said the information, was to develop a
reliable source of high-nicotine tobaccos that could be used to control and
manipulate the nicotine levels in the company's cigarettes. The government also
charged that during an investigation of the tobacco industry by the Food and
Drug Administration in 1994, DNAP knowingly concealed from the FDA information
about its contract with the tobacco company and the export of tobacco
The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor violation is a fine of $200,000 or
twice the pecuniary gain to DNAP under the contract.
The Justice Department praised the work of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) squad dealing with the tobacco investigation.
the criminal probe .
will there be a deal? .
a look at the depositions .
big tobacco - what's at stake .
links & readings .
tapes & transcripts .
frontline online .
web site copyright 1995-2014
WGBH educational foundation