Criminal charges for Bush's former FDA chief

Lester Crawford left his post suddenly a year ago. Maybe this is why.

Published October 16, 2006 7:26PM (EDT)

We were a little mystified when George W. Bush's FDA chief quit rather suddenly last year, but we haven't exactly spent the last twelve months thinking about it: Having spent just two months on the job, Lester Crawford didn't loom so large in our imagination.

But now we're getting a little insight into why Crawford may have come and gone so quickly. In the U.S. District Court in Washington today, federal prosecutors charged Crawford with lying to federal officials about his ownership of stock in companies the FDA was supposed to be regulating. As the Associated Press reports, prosecutors say that Crawford failed to disclose income he received from Embrex, Inc., an FDA-regulated agriculture biotechnology company, and that he chaired the FDA's Obesity Working Group while he owned a substantial amount of stock in both Pepsico Inc. and Sysco Corp.

The criminal charges against Crawford come in an "information" rather than an indictment -- a pretty good sign that Crawford has waived his right to an indictment from a grand jury and will be pleading guilty in the case.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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