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Former Brown & Williamson manager gets probation for smuggling

October 15, 1997

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ A former Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. manager received two years’ probation today for helping to smuggle thousands of untaxed cigarettes through Louisiana into Canada.

Michael Bernstein pleaded guilty in July to a federal charge of trafficking in contraband cigarettes. He was fined $1,000 as part of the plea bargain.

He was the last of 10 people to plead guilty. Among the others were three owners of a private duty-free warehouse in Gonzales, La.

According to the indictment, imported tax-free cigarettes were sent from 1989 through May 1994 from a bonded B&W contract warehouse in Mobile, Ala., to the Gonzales warehouse.

The cigarettes were bound for offshore vessels and thus were exempt from taxation. Instead, they were sold to a Vietnamese organization that smuggled the tobacco through Louisiana and into Canada, the indictment alleged.

Bernstein, 51, was B&W’s East Coast regional account manager at the time.

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