Ex-Congressman Should Get Almost Five Years in Prison, U.S. Says

Clay Curtis
January 17, 2020

Former MP Chris Collins is to be sentenced to almost five years in prison for insider trading, the prosecutor said on Monday to a USA district judge.

US attorneys in the Southern District of NY filed their sentencing submission Monday, arguing Collins should receive a sentence on the high-end of his 46-to-57-month sentencing guidelines.

Collins, who is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, pleaded guilty last October to charges of insider trading and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for sharing confidential information about Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics with his son, Cameron.

In July 2017, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) said in a report that there was substantial reason to believe Collins violated United States federal law by sharing material nonpublic information related to his purchase of stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotechnology company.

Collins is scheduled to be sentenced in a Manhattan federal courtroom on January 17, and his plea agreement, along with a Presentence Investigation Report, provided a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months in prison.

Collins, who was first elected to Congress in 2012, was the first congressman to endorse Donald Trump for president.

"Collins admitted to, among other things, illegally tipping his son while standing on the White House lawn", U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said after his plea was entered, according to the news outlet.

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The New York Republican served on the board of an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, and was alerted by the CEO in an email that Innate's multiple sclerosis drug, MIS416, failed a crucial clinical drug trial. He resigned from Congress in September, shortly before pleading guilty. Cameron used that information to illegally trade on the stock, avoiding a loss of approximately $570,900.

The case is U.S. v. Collins, 18-cr-567, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). He told the news to his son Cameron Collins, who then told his fiancee, Lauren Zarsky, and her parents, Dorothy and Stephen Zarsky. He won reelection in November 2018, despite being criminally charged three months before.

They said Collins should be sentenced at the top of a recommended federal sentence guidelines range of 46 to 57 months, in part because his crime was brazen and to "assure the public that those in power do not stand above the law".

"This was not a crime of passion", prosecutors wrote.

"It is critically important that the sentence imposed on Congressman Collins drive home the message that status does not constitute a basis for leniency", prosecutors wrote.

"Collins was not able to trade his own shares because they were tied up with a transfer agent", prosecutors said in their letter (emphasis in original). It is not as if Collins resisted the impulse to make money by violating the law.

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