March 06, 2007
Former FDA commissioner sentenced in stock case
A judge sentenced former FDA commissioner Lester Crawford to three years supervised probation and fines of roughly $90,000 for lying about stocks he owned in agency-regulated companies, the Associated Press reported. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson’s sentence spares Crawford jail time but is stiffer than the punishment of $50,000 proposed by federal prosecutors and his defense attorney. The judge also ordered Crawford to conduct 50 hours of community service and to pay the costs of his supervised probation. Last October, Crawford pleaded guilty to charges of having a conflict of interest and false reporting of information about stocks he and his wife owned in food, beverage and medical device companies he regulated while head of the FDA. The two charges are misdemeanors and each carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Crawford and his wife made roughly $39,000 from exercising options and dividends from the illegally held stocks in companies such as Embrex and PepsiCo, according to published reports. “I want to assure you that I accept responsibility for what I’ve done” Crawford told the judge during the hearing. “I should have communicated better with the people helping me.” Crawford declined to comment after the sentence, the AP reported. Crawford, a veterinarian and food-safety expert, resigned from the FDA in September 2005 without explanation after holding the job of commissioner for only two months.