- The Washington Times - Monday, October 16, 2006

2:32 p.m.

Federal authorities today filed criminal charges against former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Lester M. Crawford, saying that he failed to disclose his financial interests in various companies to federal regulators and Congress.

According to charging documents, Mr. Crawford failed to report stocks he and his wife held in “significantly regulated” companies, including Pepsi Co. and Sysco, a leading food manufacturer.

In addition, Mr. Crawford did not disclose to the Senate his income from stock options in Embrex, where he had served on the board of directors. The company makes medicines and vaccines for birds.

The charges, filed by the public corruption section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, also say that Mr. Crawford in 2004 failed to disclose at least $62,000 in stock in Kimberly-Clark Corp., a health and hygiene company.

He was charged with conflict of interest and making a false writing in U.S. District Court in the District. He is to be arraigned tomorrow.

Mr. Crawford’s attorney, Barbara Van Gelder, did not return a call seeking comment today.

Documents state that when he was questioned about his stock in Sysco and Kimberly-Clark by an ethics official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Crawford replied in an e-mail Dec. 28, 2004: “Sysco and Kimberly-Clark have in fact been sold.”

“In truth and in fact, as Crawford then knew, Crawford and/or his wife held shares in both Sysco and Kimberly-Clark throughout 2003 and 2004,” prosecutors said in charging documents.

In addition, prosecutors raised concerns about Mr. Crawford’s role in an obesity task force that recommended new labeling for food products at the same time he and his wife held stock in Sysco and Pepsi.

The Crawfords also held stock in Wal-Mart, which also comes under FDA regulation, according to the filings.

The penalties for making a false writing include a prison term of up to one year. The conflict-of-interest charge also includes a possible prison term of up to one year.

The Senate appointed Mr. Crawford, a longtime FDA official, as the agency’s acting commissioner July 18 of last year.

He resigned abruptly last month, citing his age — 67. His resignation came just two months after the Senate had promoted him to be the agency’s leader.

President Bush named Andrew C. von Eschenbach, director of the National Cancer Institute, as the acting FDA commissioner.

Mr. Crawford previously served as director of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Georgetown University.

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