Published: Fri, January 17, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

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

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

Chris Collins to spend "the top end" of a sentence guideline that ranges from nearly four years to just under five years in prison for the crimes he pleaded guilty to in October: insider trading and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to hide an insider trading scheme.

The former NY-27 representative got into trouble after regulators realized his son Cameron Collins dumped more than $700,000 in stock in an Australian company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, just before news went public of a failed clinical trial.

According to prosecutors in their latest filing, "Collins pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud, in connection with his tipping his son, Cameron Collins, with material non-public information that would dramatically affect the stock price of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited ("Innate") so that Cameron could trade on that information and tip others, and to one count of making materially false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about this crime almost a year after he had committed it".

Christopher Collins, 69, is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday after the Republican pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to law enforcement officials about feeding inside information about a biotechnology company to his son.

Prosecutors, including U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, wrote it's critical that Collins' sentence send a message that those in power are not above the law. The sentence is far higher than the one-year sentence recommended by the U.S. Probation Office, The Buffalo News reported.

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Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky, meanwhile, both pleaded guilty in the case, according to the Buffalo News.

The firm's stock fell 92 percent after the firm issued a press release about the failed drug test. Cameron Collins reportedly sold 1 million shares and avoided hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential losses. Cameron pleaded guilty just days after his father and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 23.

"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). "Collins committed a financial crime without having any financial need", prosecutors added.

"As a member of Innate's Board of Directors, Congressman Collins had a duty not to disclose material non-public information about the company that came into his possession", prosecutors wrote.

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". Collins could have ameliorated any concern he had that Cameron would lose money in Innate by simply gifting Cameron money.

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