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Federal prosecutor opposes delaying prison time for former Rep. Chris Collins

Federal prosecutor opposes delaying prison time for former Rep. Chris Collins
© Greg Nash

A federal prosecutor is calling for former New York Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsA Biden strategy for genuine global health security Former GOP lawmaker and Trump ally Chris Collins begins prison sentence Federal prosecutor opposes delaying prison time for former Rep. Chris Collins MORE (R) to serve his prison time after lawyers for Collins filed an emergency motion earlier this month to delay his report date due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In January, Collins was sentenced to more than two years in prison after pleading guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI.

Collins’s lawyer, Jonathan New, has cited the pandemic as reason to continuously delay Collins’s report date to the minimum security camp Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola, with the start date of his sentence initially scheduled for March 17. 

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The 70-year-old’s age puts him at higher risk for complications from COVID-19, so the court had allowed his start date to be moved to Oct. 13.

However, New argued in an Oct. 1 filing that the date should be moved again to Dec. 8, or Collins should be allowed to serve his sentence at home. 

Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a Wednesday filing that the Bureau of Prisons is capable of controlling COVID-19 infection rates, with repeated COVID-19 testing and an initial quarantining process. 

“These protocols have proven successful,” Strauss wrote. “Over the past six months, not a single case of COVID-19 has been detected among the general population of prisoners at FPC Pensacola and the BOP’s screening procedures have been able to cut off potential entry points for the disease.” 

“Contrary to Collins’s suggestion, this remarkable track record cannot be explained away as a product of inadequate testing. Since the pandemic began, Pensacola, which currently houses just over 300 prisoners, has tested over 50 prisoners, including, as discussed, all prisoners entering or leaving the facility, as well as any prisoners who exhibit credible COVID-19 symptoms,” she said.

“The public has an interest in seeing justice done in this case without further delay,” Strauss said. “It is time for Collins to begin his prison sentence.”

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New filed a response on Thursday citing coronavirus cases in Florida as justification to further delay Collins’s report date. 

“Justice will not be served by requiring Mr. Collins to report to prison now,” New said in the filing.

As of Friday, the Florida Department of Health had reported a total of 728,921 cases of COVID-19 in the state, as well as 15,186 deaths as a result of the virus. While the rate of new cases in the Sunshine State has remained relatively consistent over the past month, the Florida government has recorded a steady decline in the number of daily deaths.