Attorney Barbara Van Gelder has mentioned that a grand jury had begun a criminal investigation of Lester Crawford. She is believed to have told a federal magistrate, in a telephone hearing, on Thursday, that she would instruct him to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if ordered to answer questions about his actions as head of the FDA.
Crawford had been acting commissioner of the FDA for more than a year. He resigned in September; only two months after the Senate confirmed him, mentioning that it was time for someone else to lead the agency. However investigations have revealed that a month before he resigned, Crawford sold over $50,000 in shares in a company regulated by the FDA.
FDA's actions on emergency contraceptive pills, was a subject of dispute during Crawford's tenure. Barr Laboratories, manufacturers of these contraceptive pills, had applied three years ago to sell these pills over the counter. FDA repeatedly delayed a decision on its application, following scientific and legal concerns.
Abortion rights advocates, former FDA officials and other lawmakers claimed that the delays had resulted from politics.
The FDA was sued by the Center for Reproductive Rights in federal court in New York over the delays. The case was allowed to proceed bestowing the center with the right to interview top FDA officials, including Crawford. The criminal investigation was revealed during the trial of the lawsuit.