For­mer Rep. Collins pleads guilty to in­sider trad­ing

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/NATION - By Stephen Rex Brown and Chris Sommerfeld­t

NEW YORK — One of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ear­li­est sup­port­ers in Con­gress — for­mer Rep. Chris Collins — pleaded guilty Tues­day to in­sider trad­ing charges that he had pre­vi­ously dis­missed as “a par­ti­san witch hunt.”

“The ac­tions I took are any­thing but what a model ci­ti­zen would take. I am em­bar­rassed and dis­mayed,” Collins said.

The up­state New York Repub­li­can con­fessed to the scheme in­volv­ing his son and fa­ther of his son’s ex-fi­ancee in Man­hat­tan Fed­eral Court. Ear­lier in the day, Collins’ res­ig­na­tion was for­mally ac­cepted in Con­gress.

The guilty plea capped a quick down­fall for Collins, 69, who won re­elec­tion in 2018 to the district cov­er­ing the sub­urbs of Buf­falo and Rochester de­spite the fed­eral in­dict­ment al­leg­ing he shared the in­side info on a biotech com­pany dur­ing a pic­nic on the White House lawn. At a pre­vi­ous hear­ing, Collins ex­pressed con­fi­dence he would be elected again in 2020, should he choose to run.

In the court­room he seemed less self as­sured.

Collins said the news of the drug trial fail­ure left him “dev­as­tated ... think­ing about the mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis pa­tients we would not be able to treat.”

“I was in an emo­tional state and called my son,” he told the court.

He copped to con­spir­acy to com­mit se­cu­ri­ties fraud and ly­ing to the FBI and could have faced 10 years com­bined for both counts.

Un­der the plea deal, though, Collins agreed not ap­peal a judge’s sen­tence that falls be­tween be­tween 46 and 57 months.

A spe­cial elec­tion will be held to fill the seat, one of just six out of 27 in New York held by the GOP.

When he was charged in Au­gust 2018, Collins called the case “mer­it­less.” His spokes­woman had said a House Ethics Com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the shady stock trades was “a par­ti­san witch hunt,” echo­ing Trump.

Collins, his son Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky were ac­cused of il­le­gally dump­ing shares of a biotech com­pany, In­nate Im­munother­a­peu­tics. Chris Collins was one of the com­pany’s largest share­hold­ers and sat on its board of di­rec­tors.

Pros­e­cu­tors say the con­gress­man was caught on cam­era at the White House pic­nic telling Cameron over the phone that a new mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis drug had failed a key med­i­cal trial. The bad re­sult would send the value of the com­pany plum­met­ing by 92%. By the time the news went pub­lic, Cameron Collins and Zarsky had dumped their shares, avoid­ing losses of $768,000, pros­e­cu­tors say.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.