Pros­e­cu­tors back prison time for Trump backer in in­sider trad­ing case

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY RE­NAE MERLE re­[email protected]­post.com More at wash­ing­ton­post.com/ busi­ness

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.

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