Crawford 'blatantly violated' principlesFormer FDA commissioner Lester Crawford's criminal behavior while in office was “blatant,” according to District of Columbia US Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor in a statement issued after Crawford pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges.
"One of the most important principles of our ethics laws is that public officials cannot have a financial interest in any decision that they make," Taylor said in a Justice Department press release with HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson.
"Lester Crawford, who held one of the most important jobs in government, blatantly violated these principles," Taylor said.
The press release said that in July 2004 he disclosed his ownership of Sysco (worth $78,000) and Kimberly-Clark ($62,000) stock that six months previously he had falsely stated he had sold. Despite that disclosure, the press release said that Crawford in two other filings six months later failed to disclose owning those same, already-disclosed stocks. Crawford did not sell the Sysco stock until 10/25/04 and the Kimberly-Clark stock until 8/18/05.
The release said Crawford's plea to making false writings was based on his failure to disclose his and his wife's ownership of stock in "significantly regulated organizations" to the Senate committee which confirmed him as commissioner and to the Executive Branch which annually took disclosure statements from him. His plea to conflict of interest was based on his ownership of the Sysco and $62,000 worth of Pepsico stock while chairing deliberations of FDA's Obesity Working Group in which both companies and their share holders had a financial interest.
Crawford's attorney was reported by the Dow Jones news service as saying he could get up to six months in jail or house arrest and a fine of up to $50,000 when he is sentenced in January.