Grand Jury Is Investigating Ex-Chief of FDA

Associated Press
Sunday, April 30, 2006

NEW YORK, April 29 -- The former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration is under federal investigation amid accusations of financial improprieties and making false statements to Congress, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The New York Times, citing Lester M. Crawford's attorney, Barbara Van Gelder, said a grand jury has begun a criminal investigation of Crawford. She declined further comment.

Van Gelder told a federal magistrate in a telephone hearing Thursday that she would instruct Crawford to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if ordered to answer questions about his actions as head of the FDA, a transcript of the hearing shows.

Crawford did not reply to messages left by the Times seeking comment. FDA spokeswoman Kathleen Quinn also declined to comment. A message left at Van Gelder's Washington office was not immediately returned.

Crawford resigned in September, two months after the Senate confirmed him, saying it was time for someone else to lead the agency. He had been acting commissioner for more than a year.

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