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Star’s Williams Microwaved Tobacco Before McDonnell Probe

Businessman Jonnie Williams cooked tobacco in microwaves from Wal-Mart, packaged it in candy-like lozenges and tried to turn Virginia’s oldest cash crop into an elixir for old age.

Williams’s company, Star Scientific Inc., has lost money since 2002. Now, the 58-year-old chief executive officer is at the center of a federal investigation into whether he sought another path to success: thousands of dollars in gifts to Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, whose wife, Maureen, has helped promote a dietary supplement that’s key to Star’s future.