Regional
2:39 pm
Mon May 24, 2004

Judge Rules the Government Can Seek Billions from Tobacco Companies

Washington, DC – A federal judge has ruled that the government can seek
billions of dollars in tobacco industry profits as part of a
civil racketeering suit against cigarette companies. The
tobacco industry had argued in a motion that the government
should not be allowed to seek 280 billion dollars that
Justice Department lawyers allege was earned through
fraud.

Judge Gladys Kessler said the companies could be ordered
to hand over the money, if government lawyers prove their
case and also prove that the billions surrendered would
prevent future wrongdoing.

The Justice Department alleges that the companies deceived the
public about the dangers of tobacco and the addictive nature of
nicotine. The government also claims the companies targeted
children through advertising and then lied about it.