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Former FDA chief charged with conflict of interest

Tue., Oct. 17, 2006

WASHINGTON — Former FDA chief Lester Crawford was charged Monday with lying about his ownership of stock in companies regulated by his agency.

The Justice Department accused the former head of the Food and Drug Administration with falsely reporting that he had sold stock in companies when he continued holding onto shares in the firms governed by FDA rules.

The criminal charges were outlined in court papers known as an “information,” a legal document which ordinarily precedes a guilty plea. The Justice Department’s fraud and public corruption section filed the papers in U.S. District Court in Washington.

The papers state that Crawford also failed to disclose his income from exercising stock options in Embrex, an agriculture biotechnology company regulated by FDA.

Crawford had been a member of the board of directors of Embrex, according to federal filings.

The former FDA chief was accused of making a false writing and conflict of interest. The court papers say that Crawford chaired FDA’s Obesity Working Group at a time when he and his wife owned stock in soft drink and snack food manufacturer Pepsico and food manufacturer Sysco.

The panel Crawford was chairing was making decisions affecting food and soft drink manufacturers.


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