Chris Collins' Day of Reckoning

Former congressman to be sentenced on insider trading

Tom Puckett
January 17, 2020 - 4:00 am

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Friday is the day of reckoning for disgraced former congressman Chris Collins, as he will be sentenced on a plea stemming from an insider trading case. 

Federal prosecutors in 2018 charged Collins with insider trading and lying to the FBI. Almost immediately, Collins proclaimed his innocence. "I believe I acted properly and within the law with regards to my association with Innate. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I followed all rules and ethical guidelines regarding my investments including Innate," Collins said. Collins was accused of tipping off his son Cameron, and Cameron's future father-in-law Stephen Zarsky to a failed test, prompting the two to sell Innate shares before the news became public."The charges against me are meritless, and I will mount a vigorous defense to clear my name," said Collins.

Collins' defiance continued when he won re-election to NY27. "The thought I would not fulfill my term is crazy," said Collins in November 2018. "I absolutely will fulfill my term. When it comes to constituent service, we're the best. I clearly expect to be exonerated of the charges, and I will have my day in court."

However, the story changed in September 2019, when he first resigned from office, then accepted a plea. "Former Congressman Christopher Collins pleaded guilty to insider trading and lying to the FBI to cover up his insider trading scheme. Collins admitted to illegally tipping his son while on the White House lawn," says US Attorney Geoffrey Berman. "By virtue of his position, Collins wrote the laws of this country and acted as if the law didn't apply to him." After his plea, Collins expressed regret and said he had failed his constituents.

Last week, federal prosecutors pushed for the maximum sentence, a term of about five years. Collins' lawyers felt no prison time was necessary. Last week, attorney Paul Cambria said he wouldn't be surprised if Collins did not get the maximum term. "His lawyers will take the position that he's already suffered tremendous punishment equal to the crime. He's lost his position, he's lost a lot of money," predicted Cambria.

The sentence is up to the judge. "The judge could easily find home confinement combined with community service would be sufficient," notes Cambria. "The recommendation of a year and a day is significant because the added day makes him eligible for parole. It's a non-violent, financial crime, and that will be the main argument made."

Sentencing is scheduled for Friday afternoon.


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