Trump’s First Congressional Backer, Chris Collins, Gets 26 Months on Insider Trading Charges

Julia Arciga
Scott Heins/Getty

Former New York representative Chris Collins was sentenced to 26 months behind bars on Friday for giving his son an illegal tip about a biotechnology company's failed drug trial and for giving false statements.

“My life has been shattered. My reputation has been shattered,” Collins said through sobs prior to being handed his sentence in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, according to CNBC.

“But mostly my family has been shattered,” he said.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman expressed no sympathy for Collins. 

“Collins’s greed and disregard for the law have now led to a criminal conviction for insider trading and lying to the FBI, his resignation from Congress, and over two years in federal prison.” Berman said in a Justice Department statement.

 “Lawmakers bear the profound privilege and responsibility of writing and passing laws, but equally as important, the absolute obligation of following them. Collins’s hubris is a stark reminder that the people of New York can and should demand more from their elected officials, and that no matter how powerful, no lawmaker is above the law.”

Rep. Christopher Collins Resigns After Insider Trading Charges

Prosecutors had sought 46 to 57 months in prison for Collins, though the U.S. Probation Office recommended the former lawmaker serve one year and a day in prison.

On June 22, 2017, while at the Congressional Picnic at the White House, Collins was notified as a board member of Innate Immunotherapeutics that their multiple sclerosis drug had failed a critical drug trial.

According to the indictment, Collins promptly responded to the email, writing back, “Wow.  Makes no sense.  How are these results even possible???”

The lawmaker is said to have then called his son Cameron Collins and told him about the failed drug trial before the news was released to the public. According to the Justice Department, Collins' son sold off about 1,391,500 shares of Innate stock and was able to avoid about $570,900 in losses.

Republican Rep. Chris Collins Arrested for Insider Trading With His Son and Lying to FBI

Cameron Collins also told his fiancée's father, Stephen Zarsky, about the failed drug trial along with three others. Zarsky allegedly tipped three other people off about the news prior to its public release, allowing the eight individuals to avoid more than $768,000 in losses.

Collins, his son, and Zarsky all made false statements to the FBI to cover up the scheme, according to the DOJ. Cameron Collins and Zarsky have both pleaded guilty in the case and are slated to be sentenced later this month.

Collins was arrested and pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of lying to the FBI.

In addition to his sentence, he was also ordered to pay a $200,000 fine and one year of supervised release. 

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