Health Care & Reproductive Rights

Brown Moves to Shut Down Charity That Diverted Millions Intended for AIDS Patients

May 24, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

MONTEREY – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. has filed a lawsuit to shut down the Monterey County AIDS Project and recover more than $2.8 million intended for the benefit of people affected by HIV/AIDS that was illegally diverted to other uses.

Brown said that former officers and directors of the Seaside charity, called MCAP, took some of the money for personal use and for-profit ventures, in violation of state law and a May 2000 court order specifying that at least $1.8 million be used “solely for the purpose of providing housing for people with the HIV disease.” The complaint alleges that another $1 million in other grants and donations was misspent as well.

“The duty of these officers and directors was to protect the charity’s assets so the funds could be used for the support of very sick people,” Brown said. “Instead, they violated their trust and spent the money any way they wanted.”

The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed Friday in Monterey County Superior Court, seeks to dissolve MCAP, obtain a complete accounting of its finances, and recover any remaining assets dissipated through “the mismanagement and neglect of former officers and members of its board of directors.” Brown also seeks return of assets that were illegally diverted. Sixteen former officers and directors are named.

The complaint describes a scheme in which the MCAP officials, over nearly a decade, drained the organization’s coffers of money earmarked for HIV/AIDS patients.

The organization’s record-keeping was so sloppy and incomplete that it’s hard to determine exactly where all the money went. MCAP continued to provide housing and services for AIDS patients, but at a lesser level than its overall expenditures would suggest.

Some of the charity’s money was spent on unauthorized expenditures, such as meals at expensive restaurants, personal expenses on credit cards, purchasing items for personal use at auctions, personal moving and storage expenses, a personal mortgage payment, and steam-cleaning a carpet in a private residence.

MCAP was created in 1985 to provide support, resources and services, including housing assistance and hospice care, for HIV/AIDS patients in Seaside, north of Monterey.

Eleven years ago, MCAP received $1.8 million in cash and property from the estate of Douglas E. Madsen, a Monterey County resident, with the restriction that the bequest be used for the sole purpose of housing active AIDS patients.

But, according to Brown’s complaint, more than $2.8 million of charitable assets, including the Madsen money, was “misappropriated, misapplied or wasted.” In 1999, MCAP listed assets of $2.1 million. By 2004, that had dwindled to $1.4 million, and by 2007, only $205,000 was left.

As Attorney General, Brown is the official charged with ensuring that charitable organizations in California spend their money for the purposes specified by their founding documents, internal policies and state law.

MCAP’s filings with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts can be found at

The complaint is attached.

PDF icon n1924_complaint.pdf1.02 MB
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Brown Obtains Multi-Million-Dollar Settlement From Maker of Antipsychotic Drugs

April 27, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that California, along with other jurisdictions, has reached a $520 million settlement with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, to settle allegations it engaged in the “dangerous practice” of promoting drugs for unapproved uses in marketing Seroquel, its blockbuster antipsychotic drug.

London-based AstraZeneca will pay states and the federal government a total of $520 million in damages and penalties. California’s share is $31 million for Medi-Cal, which provides health care to the state’s poor, and other state programs.

“This company engaged in an illegal, off-label marketing campaign to boost sales of Seroquel, a powerful antipsychotic drug that should be prescribed with great caution,” said Brown. “This practice of promoting drugs for unapproved uses is dangerous and can have serious and unforeseen consequences.”

Seroquel is an antipsychotic medication used to treat psychological disorders. From 2001 through 2006, AstraZeneca was found to have promoted the drug not only to psychiatrists, but also to primary care physicians and other healthcare professionals for unapproved uses in the treatment of medical conditions such as aggression, Alzheimer’s disorder, anger management, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia and sleeplessness.

Doctors may prescribe medications for off-label uses, but drug makers are prohibited from promoting drugs for treatment of medical conditions not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)

In its marketing campaign, AstraZeneca was also alleged to have made illegal payments to physicians, paying their way to travel to resort locations to “advise” AstraZeneca about marketing messages for unapproved uses, to serve as authors of articles written by AstraZeneca and its agents, and to conduct studies for unapproved uses of Seroquel.

The settlement resolves claims that, as a result of these promotional activities, AstraZeneca encouraged physicians to prescribe Seroquel for children, adolescents and dementia patients in long-term care facilities for uses not medically accepted or FDA-approved. Among other side effects, the drugs have been shown to cause significant weight gain in children. The company also failed to adequately disclose studies that show Seroquel increases the risk of diabetes.

As part of the settlement, AstraZeneca will enter into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, which will closely monitor the company’s marketing and sales practices.

This settlement is based on qui tam cases, or whistle-blower lawsuits, that were filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“DHCS works closely with the California Department of Justice and federal authorities to identify and recover improper payments caused by these unlawful practices. The funds recovered in this action will be put back into the Medi-Cal program to serve the medically needy citizens of this state,” said DHCS Director David Maxwell-Jolly.

A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units team, including members from California and other states, participated in the investigation and entered into the settlement negotiations with AstraZeneca on behalf of the states.

Three Arrested in Sophisticated Medi-Cal Fraud And 'Doctor Shopping' Ring

April 15, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SAN DIEGO—Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the arrests of a doctor and two employees operating a “complex, multi-level scheme” that bilked more than $200,000 from low-income patients and government agencies by overcharging and prescribed pain medication to individuals who had no medical need for it.

Beginning in 2007, the three individuals arrested Wednesday perpetrated their scheme to defraud state and federal health insurance programs and patients in the San Diego area.

“These individuals operated a complex, multi-level fraud scheme,” Brown said. “Today’s arrests are a result of the cooperative efforts of state and federal law enforcement to take this dirty doctor off the streets.”

The individuals arrested today include Dr. Mohammed Tarek Kady, 55, Mario Ramirez Zarco, 31, and Ana Audelo, 23, all three from Chula Vista.

All three individuals were charged with violating California Penal Code sections 182(a)(1), 182(a)(4), 487(a), and 550(b)(3) for conspiring to cheat and defraud, to commit grand theft, and commit insurance fraud.

In addition, Kady was also charged with:
• One count of violating California Welfare and Institutions Code section 14107(b)(4)(A) for Medi-Cal fraud
• Five counts of violating California Penal Code section 487(a) for grand theft
• Three counts of violating California Penal Code section 550(a)(6) for insurance fraud
• Seven counts of violating California Health and Safety Code section 11153(a) for illegal prescribing
• One count of violating California Labor Code 3700.5(a) for failing to obtain worker’s compensation for employees
• Special Allegations of theft, including theft in excess of $100,000.

The arrests are the result of a cooperative effort between Brown’s office, the San Diego District Attorney’s Insurance Fraud Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), San Diego Health Care Fraud Squad and San Diego Organized Crime Squad, the California Department of Industrial Relations, and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Tactical Diversion Squad.

In February 2009, an Anthem Blue Cross investigator reported Kady’s pediatric office in Chula Vista was unlawfully charging fees to patients enrolled in state and federal health insurance plans.

Two of Kady’s employees, Mario Zarco and Ana Audelo, unlawfully charged patients $50 to $500 for assistance in enrollment in state and federal health insurance coverage. Kady himself unlawfully charged patients an additional $200 to $300 fee to examine their newborn children in the hospital.

Investigators estimate that Kady unlawfully charged more than $60,000 for services to individuals and families enrolled in state and federal health insurance coverage.

Brown’s investigation also showed Kady frequently traveled out of the country for several weeks at a time but continued to charge for his services at his Chula Vista office. Reimbursement claims indicate Kady charged more than $160,000 for services when, in reality, he was out of the country.

In addition to overcharging for services and charging for services never performed, Kady prescribed pain medication to individuals without any justifiable medical purpose, enabling patients apparently “doctor shopping” for drugs. Kady wrote prescriptions for opiates, including the narcotic, Vicodin, and codeine cough syrups to drug addicts abusing the drugs and illegally selling them. On seven DEA sting operations, most recently last month, Kady prescribed narcotics without medical justification.

Kady’s patients were instructed to fill their pain medication prescription at one San Diego pharmacy. An employee at the pharmacy became suspicious after dozens of individuals attempted to fill prescriptions, written by Kady, at the pharmacy each Friday. The investigation revealed Kady and the pharmacy owner had a quid pro quo arrangement in which the pharmacy would kick back some $3 per prescription.

According to the Medical Board of California, Mohammed Tarek Kady was licensed as a physician in December 1997. He is a family practitioner with board certification in Pediatrics, and maintained two clinics, one in Chula Vista and one in San Diego.

If convicted of all charges, Kady faces as much as 20 years in prison. Zarco and Audelo face up to 6 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

“The Drug Enforcement Administration is committed to keeping the San Diego community safe from doctors who enable the abuse of prescription drugs”, says Special Agent in Charge Ralph W. Partridge. “The suspension of Doctor Kady’s controlled substance privilege is an important step toward ensuring accountability of those who supply controlled substances illegally”.

A copy of the complaint filed in San Diego Superior Court is attached. Photos of the defendants are also attached.

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Attorney General Brown Forges Agreement To Stop Valero from Selling Tobacco to Minors

April 7, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a multi-state agreement with Valero Oil to stop young people from purchasing tobacco products at its convenience stores.

“For years gas station convenience stores have served as an illegal provider for underage smokers. Today, Valero has finally joined the growing list of companies that have made a commitment to prevent illegal access to tobacco,” Attorney General Brown said. “Smoking remains a serious public-health problem in our country, and we need to do everything possible to keep young people from picking up the habit.”

Every day, some 2,000 children begin smoking in this country. One-third of them will die of tobacco-related diseases. Nearly half of underage smokers said they bought their cigarettes at gas station convenience stores.

Attorneys General throughout the country reached this agreement after a nationwide investigation, led by Brown’s office, of tobacco selling practices at convenience stores owned by or affiliated with Valero.

The agreement includes the following provisions:

• Valero retail personnel will receive training about the health risks associated with childhood tobacco use.
• Valero will administer independent compliance checks to monitor sales practices at company-owned convenience stores, to ensure they are not selling tobacco to minors.
• Vending machines, free samples, and self-service displays of tobacco products will be prohibited at company-owned stores.
• In-store tobacco advertisements will be limited to reduce youth demand for tobacco products.
• Valero will require all of its convenience store operators to notify the company if tobacco products are sold to minors in violation of state law.
• The states will continue to impose sanctions against stores that sell tobacco to minors.

There are over 900 Valero stations in California. Although Valero does not directly own or operate the convenience stores at many of those stations, it has agreed to adopt procedures designed to reduce tobacco sales to minors at all of its outlets.

Nationwide, 47% of underage youths who reported buying cigarettes said they got them at gas station convenience stores. Studies have linked retail tobacco marketing with underage smoking. In addition, many convenience stores are located near schools and playgrounds. Studies show that most adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18.

Recently, other multi-state agreements have been inked to curb the sale of tobacco to minors at gas station convenience stores, including Conoco, Phillips 66, 76, Exxon, Mobil, BP, ARCO, Chevron, and Shell, as well as retail and pharmacy outlets operated by Kroger, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and Wal-Mart. Participating grocery stores include Ralphs, Safeway, and Vons.

A copy of the agreement is attached.

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Brown's Statement on Lawsuits Challenging Federal Healthcare Legislation

March 23, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Thirteen attorneys general, all but one are Republican, are rushing to kill the federal healthcare bill by filing lawsuits alleging that the bill violates states' rights. Here in California, a handful of Republican leaders have followed suit and are asking that I join in. Accordingly, I've instructed deputies in my office to carefully review these claims in light of applicable constitutional principles. Health care is not the place, with people's lives at stake, to engage in poisonous partisanship. At this critical time in our nation's history, we need to come together to forge a common purpose.

Brown Asks Court to Prevent Michael Jackson's Former Doctor Conrad Murray from Practicing Medicine

March 23, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Los Angeles—Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that his office has filed documents with the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of the California Medical Board to ask the court to restrict the medical license of Michael Jackson’s former doctor, Conrad Murray, preventing him from practicing medicine in California until the criminal proceedings against him are completed.

“Murray administered a lethal dose of propofol, as well as other drugs to Michael Jackson,” alleged Brown in his filing. “We will argue in court that Murray was reckless in giving Jackson such a dangerous drug and has demonstrated a serious lack of judgment that should prohibit him from practicing medicine.”

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint last month alleging that Dr. Murray committed involuntary manslaughter last year when he gave Michael Jackson the lethal dose of propofol. Jackson was under Dr. Murray’s care at the time of his death.

Brown’s office is representing the California Medical Board, the agency charged with protecting the public from dangerous, incompetent or impaired physicians and surgeons.

Copies of the court filings are attached.

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Brown Arrests Six People for Medi-Cal Fraud

March 23, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Los Angeles—Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced the arrests of six former employees of New Beginnings Recovery Treatment Center Inc., a Los Angeles-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, who “stole tens of thousands of dollars” from Medi-Cal by billing the state for drug treatment sessions that were never performed.

The six individuals were arrested today on charges of felony grand theft and filing false Medi-Cal claims. The maximum sentence for conviction on both felonies is three years in state prison. Bail has been set at $68,000 for Tatyana Yakovenko and at $40,000 for the other five defendants.

“These individuals stole tens of thousands of dollars from the state’s alcohol and drug treatment programs,” Brown said. “In this time of economic crisis, it’s brazen and offensive that these individuals chose to rip off public health programs instead of helping substance abusers get their lives together.”

Between July 1, 2005 and May 30, 2009, New Beginnings owner Tatyana Yakovenko and her associates submitted 1,642 fraudulent claims totaling more than $68,000 to the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP.)

Under a contract established with the Los Angeles County Alcohol and Drug Programs Administration, New Beginnings provided alcohol and drug treatment services to Medi-Cal patients. Certified as a Substance Abuse Clinic in January 2002, New Beginnings operated four treatment centers in Los Angeles County.

In late 2008, Brown’s office launched an investigation into allegations that New Beginnings was submitting false Medi-Cal claims to ADP.

Brown’s investigation found that New Beginnings owner Tatyana Yakovenko and five members of the center’s upper management required therapists and group counselors to “ghost write” counseling sessions that were never performed and forge group therapy sign-in sheets. The investigation uncovered that as many as half of the Medi-Cal claims filed by New Beginnings were fraudulent.

The investigation also revealed that several patients who were enrolled in the program did not have a drug problem, and many of their drug tests were fabricated to ensure continued and unnecessary treatment. New Beginnings employees enticed adult Medi-Cal beneficiaries to enroll in the organization’s drug counseling program by offering cigarettes, food, and assistance with Section 8 housing qualification.

The majority of treatment and group notes were stored on computers, which made it easy to cut and paste and change the names of the clients. Counselors were instructed to occasionally create a “crisis,” which meant a dirty drug test or a situation that warranted a client’s continued drug treatment.

Additionally, investigators determined that some counselors were ordered to enter treatment records for 120 clients when only 40 clients were actually receiving treatment. The average client had four treatment group activities per month, but counselors were pushed to increase the documentation to 20 activities per month.

The six individuals arrested today on charges of felony grand theft and filing false Medi-Cal claims include:
• Tatyana Yakovenko, 35, of Beverly Hills,
• Natalya Zvereva, 34, of Sherman Oaks,
• Carlos Villanueva, 38, of Pico Rivera,
• Aleksey Lisitsa, 27, of Los Angeles,
• Jodee A. Wallace, 41, of Granada Hills; and,
• Romalis Conway, 29, of Los Angeles

Earlier this month, Brown announced his office recovered more than $209 million and secured 139 criminal convictions by aggressively investigating and prosecuting Medi-Cal fraud cases in 2009. Brown also reported that in 2009, his Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse returned more than $12 million to victims of elder abuse and secured 47 criminal convictions in elder abuse cases.

Copies of the felony complaint and arrest warrant affidavits are attached.

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PDF icon New Beginnings Complaint.pdf40.18 KB

Brown Announces Investigation into Prescription-Drug Ring Linked to Former Child Star Corey Haim

March 12, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Los Angeles—In an ongoing crackdown on prescription-drug fraud and abuse, Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that his office is investigating an “illegal and massive prescription-drug ring” linked to the actor Corey Haim.

An unauthorized prescription under the former child star’s name was found during an ongoing investigation of fraudulent prescription-drug pads ordered from a vendor in San Diego.

“Corey Haim’s death is yet another tragedy linked to the growing problem of prescription-drug abuse,” Attorney General Brown said. “This problem is increasingly linked to criminal organizations, like the illegal and massive prescription-drug ring under investigation. It’s a serious public health problem.”

The prescription-drug ring under investigation operates by ordering prescription-drug pads from authorized vendors using stolen doctor identities. The pads are then either sold on the street to prescription-drug addicts or to individuals who are paid to fill the prescription and then sell the drugs on the underground market. The doctor whose name is printed on the form is usually unaware that his or her identity has been stolen for this purpose.

The investigation has thus far uncovered more than 4,500 to 5,000 fraudulent prescriptions linked to the fraud ring in Southern California.

The San Diego Regional Pharmaceutical Narcotic Enforcement Team (RxNET) is conducting the investigation. RxNET is a cooperative effort of the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement; Department of Health Care Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. RxNET also works in conjunction with other state, federal and local law enforcement agencies.

Prescription-drug abuse is a growing problem. Brown’s office has investigated and filed charges in more than 200 cases—against both physicians who have abused their trust and patients who go from doctor to doctor in search of drugs.

In February 2009, Brown filed charges against Dr. Lisa Barden of Rancho Cucamonga, who stole the identities of her patients to obtain highly addictive painkillers. The San Bernardino County District Attorney is prosecuting the case.

In April 2009, Brown’s office arrested five college-age individuals who conspired to fraudulently obtain thousands of prescription drugs. The San Diego County District Attorney is now prosecuting the case.

In addition to costing the state millions of dollars each year, prescription-drug abuse can have serious public safety consequences, as many of the top abusers hold down regular jobs including truck drivers, transit operators and medical practitioners.

California is at the forefront of technology that makes it more difficult for criminals to operate prescription-drug rings. Brown’s office has introduced significant technology upgrades to the state’s prescription-monitoring program, known as CURES, by creating an accessible, online database. The database is a critical tool in assisting law enforcement in investigating these types of crimes.

For more information on the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and California’s prescription-drug monitoring system visit:

For doctors and other authorized healthcare and prescription-drug providers, visit for more information on CURES.

Brown Recovers $209 Million in Taxpayer Dollars in 2009 Medi-Cal Fraud Cases

March 8, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Sacramento—Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that last year, his office recovered more than $209 million in “hard-earned taxpayer dollars” and secured 139 criminal convictions by aggressively investigating and prosecuting Medi-Cal fraud cases.

Brown also reported that in 2009, his Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse returned more than $12 million to victims of elder abuse and secured 47 criminal convictions in elder abuse cases.

“In these tough budget times, the state can’t afford to lose millions in hard-earned taxpayer dollars from people who try to cheat and steal from the system,” Brown said. “Thanks to the tireless work of DOJ investigators, we protected our most vulnerable citizens and recovered critical public health dollars.”

Brown’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (BMFEA) investigates and prosecutes those who cheat taxpayers out of millions of dollars each year and divert scarce healthcare resources from the needy. The Bureau also protects patients in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from abuse and neglect.

Combined, Brown recovered more than $221 million in Medi-Cal fraud and elder abuse cases. The amount recovered last year is more than six times the BMFEA’s $33.1 million operating budget. This represents a recovery of $36 for every $1 expended from the state's general funds.

The recoveries stem from restitution obtained in Medi-Cal fraud, elder abuse, and patient fund cases. Patient fund cases occur when a disabled person's finances are being controlled by a trustee who steals from the patient's trust account. Annually, the BMFEA conducts more than 1,500 investigations.

Medi-Cal Fraud

Last year’s $209 million recovery stemmed from civil lawsuits Brown’s office filed against companies and individuals that billed the state’s Medi-Cal fund for unnecessary services or for services that were never performed.

In one such case filed in October 2009, Brown’s office arrested the former manager of a Mount Shasta-based medical clinic after she billed Medi-Cal $2.2 million for services never performed. Denise Fairhurst, 57, of Redding, filed false Medi-Cal claims with the state to help cover the medical clinic’s operations and management costs. In addition, she used $33,492 of the funds to pay personal credit card bills. Fairhurst is scheduled to be sentenced on March 24 in Siskiyou County Superior Court.

Some of the fraud is perpetrated by criminal fraud rings. In May 2009, Brown filed criminal charges against six individuals who paid healthy seniors to be admitted into a hospice for the terminally ill and then billed state healthcare programs more than $1 million for procedures never performed. Some of the individuals used the proceeds of the scheme to purchase expensive cars, designer clothing, and luxury homes. Four of the defendants have pled guilty, and the state has recovered the $1 million.

A number of Medi-Cal fraud cases are institutional. In December 2009, Brown reached a $21.3 million settlement with pharmaceutical giant Schering-Plough Corporation, resolving allegations the company deliberately inflated the price of Albuterol and other drugs, overcharging Medi-Cal millions of dollars in pharmacy reimbursement.

Most of the funds recovered go back into the state’s Medi-Cal fund, which provides medical payments for nearly 20 percent of California’s children, lower income individuals and families, the elderly and disabled.

Elder Abuse

Although elder abuse can take many forms, the majority of cases involve abuses at California’s skilled nursing facilities. Brown’s office uses its civil, administrative and criminal enforcement powers to bring poorly performing care facilities into compliance with federal and state laws.

A few elder abuse cases Brown’s office prosecuted include:
• Mary Louise Wilson, who was sentenced to nineteen years and four months in prison for setting multiple fires at Southern California nursing homes, including the beds of elderly patients who were unable to get out of bed without assistance;
• Pamela Ott, who was charged with eight felony counts of elder abuse in September 2009 for allowing staff to forcibly administer psychotropic medications to patients for their own convenience, rather than for their patients' therapeutic interests; and,
• Leander Jackson, who was sentenced to three years, eight months in prison for identity theft and grand theft for operating several unlicensed skilled nursing facilities and neglecting to provide the proper care to the residents. Jackson used the identities of the patients to obtain cash loans and car leases.

A copy of the BMFEA Annual Report is attached.

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Brown Secures Agreement with American Spirit Cigarettes Maker over Alleged Misleading Marketing of Organic Tobacco Products

March 1, 2010
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Los Angeles—Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that his office has secured an agreement with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc., the manufacturer of American Spirit tobacco products, that requires the company to clearly disclose that its organic tobacco is “no safer or healthier” than other tobacco products.

Attorneys general from 32 other states and the District of Columbia signed onto today’s agreement.

“Stamping an organic label on tobacco products is ultimately a distinction without a difference—organic or not, cigarettes are bad for your health,” Brown said. “Today’s settlement with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company ensures that all future advertisements make it clear that organic tobacco is no safer or healthier.”

Today’s agreement follows Brown’s contention that Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company may have misled consumers in advertising its “organic” or “100% organic” Natural American Spirit cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco and pouches, leading consumers to believe these products were less harmful than other tobacco products. There is currently no competent or reliable scientific evidence to support this conclusion.

Under the terms of the agreement, all advertisements will clearly and prominently feature the following warnings:

• For Natural American Spirit organic cigarettes: “Organic tobacco does NOT mean safer cigarettes.”
• For Natural American Spirit organic roll-your-own or pouch tobacco: “Organic tobacco does NOT mean safer tobacco.”

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company has until April 1, 2010 to meet these requirements in the placement of future advertising. All tobacco retailers selling these products must be contacted and instructed to dispose of old advertisements that do not feature these disclosures once updated advertisements and point of sale materials are received.

Organic tobacco is certified under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program. To receive organic certification, tobacco farmers have to follow a strict, labor-intensive growing regimen. Certified organic tobacco is grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers prohibited under the program.

Thirty-two other attorneys general signed onto Brown’s agreement today from the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Additionally, the attorney general of the District of Columbia signed onto the agreement.

Brown’s agreement with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, Inc. is attached.