Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to sentence former Republican New York congressman Chris Collins to nearly five years in prison after he pleaded guilty to being involved in an insider trading scheme as well as lying to the FBI.
Before his resignation, Collins represented New Yorks 27th Congressional District, which includes areas surrounding Buffalo and Rochester. He won reelection in November 2018 despite being criminally charged three months before.
Prosecutors in a court filing said on Jan. 13 that “the Government believes that a sentence at the top end of the Guidelines range is necessary in order to satisfy the objectives of [the federal criminal code] and in particular to promote respect for the law, to provide just punishment for the offense, and to achieve general deterrence.”
Federal sentence guidelines in the case have recommended between 47 and 57 months in prison, noted CNBC. Prosecutors also said they want to sentence Collins on the higher end of that range.
Collins pleaded guilty late last year in the case, which relates to an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, a firm the former congressman sat on the board of and held a significant stake in.
“I regret my actions beyond anything that I could explain here today,” Collins, 69, said in court at the time in October 2019, reported CNN. In a plea deal, he avoided other charges including securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.
“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. “By virtue of his position, Collins helped write the laws of his country, and acted as if the law didnt apply to him.”
Prosecutors said that Collins learned in an email from Innates chief executive that a clinical trial for its proposed multiple sclerosis drug, MIS416, had failed. He told the news to his son Cameron Collins, who then told his fiancee, Lauren Zarsky, and her parents, Dorothy and Stephen Zarsky. By Collinss actions, the Zarskys avoided significant losses in their stock holdings and began selling their shares of Innate Immunotherapeutics the next day, Reuters reported.