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2 Charged in Tobacco Trial Plan Plot

September 22, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ A law student and his brother have been charged in federal court with stealing the ``trial plan″ of lawyers suing cigarette makers and then trying to sell it for $2 million to industry attorneys.

Said Farraj, 27, and Yeazid Farraj, 24, were arrested by the FBI in July on charges they stole the 400-page plan and tried to peddle it through e-mail to attorneys for Philip Morris Inc. and other companies.

If convicted on the most serious charge _ interstate theft _ they could be put behind bars for up to 10 years.

In court papers filed Wednesday, prosecutors revealed they were trying to negotiate a plea deal with the brothers.

Said Farraj, a Quinnipiac College law student, worked as a summer paralegal for a Manhattan law firm, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, representing a trust which has sued tobacco companies, alleging they contributed to asbestos-related illnesses, court papers said.

Damages in the case, which is expected to go to trial later this year, could exceed $1 billion.

Michael Stopler, an attorney with the firm, said Farraj abruptly quit after only a month. According to a statement by an FBI agent, tobacco lawyers found an e-mail from someone with the screen name ``FlyGuy″ when they arrived at work a few days later.

The sender said he had obtained an electronic copy of the plaintiffs’ trial plan, and offered a sample of 80 pages. The closely guarded plan explained strategy and contained depositions and court exhibits.

The industry attorneys alerted their opponents, who contacted the FBI. An agent e-mailed with ``FlyGuy,″ and proposed closing a deal at a McDonald’s restaurant.

Yeazid Farraj showed up at the McDonald’s and assured the agent that the entire trial plan would be e-mailed to tobacco lawyers.

Once under arrest, Farraj told authorities that his brother had hatched the plot after secretly downloading the trial plan, according to court papers.

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