Hillary had problems with them. So did Bill Frist. So don't be too tough on poor Lester. That in essence is what defense attorney Barbara Van Gelder argued today in D.C .'s federal court, asking Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson to have mercy on former Food & Drug Commissioner Lester Crawford. Crawford, who resigned in fall 2005 just two months after being confirmed as commissioner, pleaded guilty in October to two misdemeanor charges of withholding financial information and a conflict of interest over his ownership of stock in companies including Pepsico Inc. and Sysco Corp. and the drug company Embrex Inc.
Today he faced his punishment. Jail was never on the table, so Van Gelder was merely trying to have her client avoid the strenuous task of having to regularly call into probation officials. "This court should not be blind to the fact that so many people are tripping over these forms," Van Gelder said.
Indeed, Crawford told the judge, "I have only one regret and that is that I was not more careful with these disclosure forms." Robinson sentenced him to three years of supervised probation and fined him $89,000—almost $40,000 more than the government requested. He also has to finish 50 hours of community service in the first year.