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Former FDA head to plead guilty to charges

Lester Crawford made false statements regarding financial links to companies he was regulating

Lester Crawford, the former US Food and Drug Administration head who resigned last year, is to plead guilty to charges that he made false statements and violated conflict of interest law over his ownership of shares in companies that the agency regulated.

Crawford's lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder said that under a plea agreement, he could face a $50,000 fine and either probation, house arrest or up to 6 months in prison.

Government investigators have been looking into Crawford's financial affairs since he resigned as FDA commissioner in September 2005, just two months after being sworn in to the job on a full-time basis.

According to prosecutors, Crawford, 68, lied in 2004 that he had sold shares of food group, Sysco and consumer health products firm, Kimberly-Clark when in fact he and his wife continued to hold them, and he failed to disclose income from biotech firm, Embrex stock options.

ìCrawford did not disclose his income from the November 14, 2004 exercise of Embrex stock optionsî as well as the Kimberly-Clark and Sysco stock, said US attorney, Jeffrey Taylor, in the charging document. He added that Crawford and his wife earned more than $130,000 from the investments that year.

Van Gelder claimed that Crawford never intentionally sought to mislead anyone. ìThe fact of the matter is there were errors,î she said.

US president, George Bush nominated Crawford to become FDA commissioner in February 2005. He holds doctorates in veterinary medicine and pharmacology and ran the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine from 1978 to 1980 and from 1982 to 1985.

30th September 2008

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