October 17, 2006
Crawford to plead guilty to financial conflict of interest: AP
Lester Crawford, the former FDA chief, is expected to tell a federal magistrate Tuesday that he lied about financial holdings in companies his agency regulated, the Associated Press reported. According to the AP report, Crawford’s lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said her client will plead guilty in response to charges from the Justice Department that Crawford falsely reported selling shares in companies governed by FDA rules. The firms were snack food manufacturer Pepsico and food product manufacturer Sysco. Crawford's ownership of those shares was prohibited under federal regulations, since the companies are to be “significantly regulated” by the FDA. The Justice Department also accused Crawford of conflict of interest, charging that as chairman of an FDA panel studying the problem of obesity, he and his wife owned at least $140,000 in stock in Pepsico, the mammoth snacks and drinks company, and Sysco, a major food distribution company. Crawford also violated financial reporting requirements -- alleged by court documents according to the AP -- by failing to disclose income from the sale of stock options in agriculture biotechnology firm Embrex, of whose board Crawford had been a member. Crawford resigned from the FDA in September 2005 but gave no reason for his decision to leave. He had held the top position for just two months but had been acting head of the regulatory agency for more than a year.