Former Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to 2 years in prison for insider trading

Former Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) has been sentenced to more than two years in prison on charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI.

A federal judge on Friday rejected pleas for Collins to receive probation and sentenced him to 26 months in prison, according to multiple reports.

Collins, the first sitting member of Congress to endorse President Trump’s White House bid and a top former ally of his in the House, was charged in August 2018 with securities fraud related to an Australian pharmaceutical company that counted him as one of its top shareholders.

The New York Republican resigned from office in September and later pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit securities fraud and one count of making false statements.

Collins’s fortunes on Capitol Hill first took a turn after he was overheard by reporters bragging about “how many millionaires I’ve made in Buffalo.”

GOP lawmakers had told The Hill in 2017 that the New York Republican had boasted about how much money he had made for other members of Congress by alerting them to the pharmaceutical company Innate Immunotherapeutics, where he served on the board of directors and was the largest shareholder.

A congressional ethics investigation later found that he may have violated the law and House rules by sharing nonpublic information with investors.

Geoff Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said following the indictment of Collins and his son that the congressman “acted as if the law didn’t apply to him.” 

“The charges today demonstrate, once again, that no matter what the crime and no matter who committed it, we stand committed in the pursuit of justice without fear or favor,” Berman said in 2018.

The scandal surrounded Innate’s unsuccessful attempts to develop a drug to fight advanced multiple sclerosis. The company’s CEO shared a test’s failed results with board members and top executives, which Collins then shared with his son. Collins’s son spread the results further and sold more than 1.3 million shares of Innate in U.S. markets ahead of the announcement of the drug’s failure.

Collins’s son pleaded guilty last October to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Prosecutors have recommended that he serve at least 37 months in prison, according to The Buffalo News.

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