Ex-FDA Chief Gets Probation, Fine for Lying About Stocks

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Associated Press
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A judge sentenced former Food and Drug Administration chief Lester M. Crawford yesterday to three years of supervised probation and fined him about $90,000 for lying about stocks he owned in companies regulated by the agency.

Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson's sentence is stiffer than the punishment of a $50,000 fine proposed by federal prosecutors and Crawford's attorney.

"While the total fine exceeds what the parties agreed to, the fine is well below the maximum under the statute," Robinson said in a 90-minute hearing in which she sometimes questioned Crawford's remorse.

Robinson also ordered Crawford to perform 50 hours of community service and to pay the costs of his supervised probation.

Crawford, 69, pleaded guilty last October to charges of having a conflict of interest and false reporting of information about stocks that he and his wife owned. Beginning in 2002, he filed seven incorrect financial reports with a government ethics office and Congress.

The two charges are misdemeanors, and each carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

"I want to assure you that I accept responsibility for what I've done," Crawford told Robinson during the hearing. "I should've communicated better with the people helping me" on the financial forms, he said.

Noting that public officials must take whatever steps necessary to "avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest," Crawford said, "I understand that."

He declined to comment after the sentence.

Crawford, a veterinarian and food-safety expert, resigned from the FDA in September 2005, two months after the Senate confirmed him.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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