Former FDA Commissioner Under Criminal Investigation
Former FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford is under criminal investigation by a federal grand jury over allegations of financial improprieties and false statements to Congress, his lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, said Friday, the New York Times reports (Harris, New York Times, 4/29).
Crawford left FDA in September 2005, two months after his Senate confirmation, saying it was time for someone else to lead the agency. According to financial disclosure forms, Crawford or his wife held shares in several companies whose business is regulated by FDA as late as 2004, when Crawford was FDA's acting commissioner.
The HHS Office of Inspector General confirmed in October 2005 that it had launched an investigation into Crawford's departure (California Healthline, 10/26/05).
Van Gelder, who would not discuss the allegations further, told a federal magistrate in a court hearing conducted by telephone on Thursday that she would tell Crawford to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against compelled self-incrimination if requested to respond to questions about his actions as FDA commissioner (New York Times, 4/29).
The criminal investigation was disclosed in a hearing on procedural matters in a civil suit filed against FDA over its handling of the emergency contraceptive Plan B (Wilke, Wall Street Journal, 5/1).
Crawford was scheduled to be questioned under oath in the Plan B trial on Thursday, but Van Gelder asked for a delay on Wednesday, saying she would instruct Crawford to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. Van Gelder said that Crawford is under criminal investigation and that the issue of his financial disclosures "is within the grand jury" (New York Times, 4/29).