Prosecutors back prison time for Trump backer in insider trading case
Chris Collins of New York should get nearly five years for insider trading and lying to the FBI, prosecutors said.
Former House member Chris Collins, President Trump’s first congressional supporter, should serve nearly five years in prison for insider trading and lying to the FBI, federal prosecutors recommended to a judge Monday.
A lengthy sentence is necessary “to promote respect for the law” and “to provide just punishment,” according to a sentencing memo signed by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.
U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick is scheduled to sentence Collins on Friday. Prosecutors have recommended the New York Republican receive the “top end” of the sentencing guidelines — 46 to 57 months in prison.
Collins allegedly tipped off his son to confidential information about an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, that he learned as a member of its board. Collins and several others used the information to avoid more than $700,000 in losses, according to prosecutors.
Collins once called the charges against him “meritless” but resigned in September and entered a guilty plea. He also reached a separate settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Collins’s son, Cameron, and another family member have also pleaded guilty. They are scheduled to be sentenced next week.
He “has paid a heavy price for his crimes. He is, and will forever be, tortured with the knowledge that his actions have caused his son, to whom he always aspired to be a role model, to live with the stain of a felony conviction, and perhaps serve time in prison,” Collins’s attorneys, Jonathan New and Jonathan Barr, said in a court filing earlier this month.
Barr and New did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on prosecutors’ recommendation on Monday but have told the court that the former congressman should receive probation.
Collins represented New York’s 27th Congressional District, which encompasses suburban and rural areas stretching east of the Buffalo metropolitan area, for more than five years. He was among Trump’s earliest endorsers.
Collins served on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics, which was developing a new therapy for multiple sclerosis, and was its largest shareholder, according to a federal indictment. While at the June 2017 congressional picnic at the White House, according to court filings, Collins received an email from Innate Immunotherapeutics’s chief executive alerting the company’s board that an eagerly anticipated drug trial had been a failure.
Collins immediately tried to contact his son, who owned millions of Innate Immunotherapeutics shares, according to the indictment. Within a few minutes, according to court filings, Collins and his son called each other six times before connecting and talking for six minutes. During that call, Collins told his son about the failed drug trial, according to the indictment, which cites phone and bank records as well as texts.
Collins and his family were able to avoid significant losses before the news became public and the company’s stock price fell more than 90 percent, prosecutors allege.
“As a member of Congress at the time that he committed the offenses in this case . . . Collins was better situated than almost anyone else to understand the societal importance of following the law,” prosecutors said in Monday’s court filing.