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Financial Fraud Law

Tobacco Whistleblower Merrell Williams Jr. Is Dead, at 72

 A paralegal who worked for a law firm in Kentucky that represented Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation and who leaked thousands of pages of internal industry memoranda and studies on the addictiveness of cigarettes and the connection between cigarette smoking and health risks, has died.

Merrell Williams Jr., 72, passed away after a heart attack in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Williams worked for a Kentucky law firm representing Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. Questions were raised about whether Williams had violated the attorney-client privilege and whether anti-tobacco advocates had paid him for the documents.

Brown & Williamson executive Jeffrey Wigand also revealed industry secrets and became more well known than Williams.

The industry subsequently reached a massive settlement with states across the country.

In an interview after he leaked the documents, Williams said that people in Louisville, the headquarters of Brown & Williamson before its merger with R.J. Reynolds, were not friendly to him but that “to a lot of people Merrell Williams is a hero.” He added, “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

There was a private service for Williams last Friday.

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