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|Keeney to steer tobacco criminal investigation-WSJ
NEW YORK, July 10 (Reuters) - Attorney General Janet Reno last week tapped the Justice Department's most senior troubleshooter, John C. Keeney, 76, to help steer the sprawling criminal investigation of the nation's biggest cigarette makers, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The report said Keeney's appointment may accelerate the Federal investigation of the industry.
Keeney, who has directed high-profile criminal cases since the Kennedy era, fills a void created by the departure of the tobacco probe's longtime leader, fraud section chief Mary Spearing, who left in June for private practice, the paper said.
He oversees prosecutors that for four years have been investigating potential crimes ranging from making false statements to the government to conspiring to conceal the health risks of smoking.
People familiar with the situation say Keeney's new role signals that the probe is moving into a critical phase.
Another sign the investigation may be heating up is that the Department of Justice recently informed Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., a unit of London-based B.A.T. Industries PLC
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