Ex-FDA chief Crawford faces ethics charges
Lester Crawford is scheduled to appear in court for owning stocks in companies regulated by the FDA and making false statements.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The former head of the Food and Drug Administration is being charged with lying about owning stocks in businesses that are regulated by the FDA.

Lester Crawford is expected to appear before a magistrate judge Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington on charges of making a false writing and conflict of interest.

In an "information" document made public Monday, the Justice Department's fraud and corruption section contends Crawford and his wife held shares in Kimberly-Clark (Charts) and Sysco (Charts) despite claims those stocks had been sold.

The court papers cite a December 2004 e-mail to an ethics official stating, "Sysco and Kimberly-Clark have in fact been sold."

The legal document also alleges Crawford did not disclose income from exercising stock options in Embrex (Charts), an agricultural biotechnology firm also regulated by the FDA.

Crawford earned more than $8,000 from exercising some Embrex options in 2003 and more than $20,000 from exercising more in 2004. Crawford was once a member of that company's board of directors.

The court papers go on to allege some of Crawford's holdings were a conflict of interest in his role as head of the FDA's Obesity Working Group.

Crawford owned stock in both Pepsico (Charts) and Sysco, which produce soft drinks and food products. The Obesity Working Group was studying recommendations on food labels and calorie counts.

The documents say both Pepsico and Sysco had financial interests at stake in the work being conducted by the group.

Crawford unexpectedly resigned as commissioner of the FDA in September 2005 after holding the position just two months. But he had been acting head of the agency for more than a year and was the agency's deputy commissioner prior to that.

Court papers known as information documents often are filed in advance of a guilty plea.

A call to Crawford's lawyer for comment has not yet been returned.

The FDA issued a statement saying it does not comment on "personnel issues related to former employees."


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