What to Know
- A judge sentenced former U.S. Rep. Chris Collins to more than two years in prison for conspiring in an insider trading scheme
- U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick in Manhattan sentenced the 69-year-old Republican Friday afternoon to 26 months behind bars
- Defense attorneys said Collins was sorry for what happened and shouldn't serve any prison time, while prosecutors wanted five years
A judge sentenced former U.S. Rep. Chris Collins to more than two years in prison for conspiring in an insider trading scheme.
U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick in Manhattan sentenced the 69-year-old Republican Friday afternoon to 26 months behind bars. Collins broke down and apologized to his family and his former constituents and colleagues.
"I stand here today as a disgraced former member of Congress," he said. "My life has been shattered."
The disgraced politician's lawyers and prosecutors had been arguing over how long he should be punished for. Collins' lawyers said he is sorry and shouldn't have faced any prison time. Prosecutors, though, said in written arguments to the judge that he should go to prison for nearly five years.
They said that Collins and his son, Cameron, were worth a total of $35 million when they conspired to sell shares in a pharmaceutical company before the devastating news was made public. The trading, prosecutors said, enabled Cameron Collins and friends to dodge $800,000 in losses.
In the end, the judge essentially split the difference between the two sides, putting Collins behind bars for just over two years. After the sentencing, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman said the former congressman's "greed and disregard for the law" led to the guilty verdict.
"Lawmakers bear the profound privilege and responsibility of writing and passing laws, but equally as important, the absolute obligation of following them," Berman said in a statement. "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.”
One of President Donald Trump's earliest supporters, Collins had represented western New York since his election to the 27th Congressional District of New York in 2012.
"This is a sad and tragic day for Chris and his family," defense attorney Jonathan Barr said. "He stands before you humbled, penitent and remorseful."
He resigned when he decided to plead guilty to a single conspiracy count and lying to law enforcement in October, but prosecutors faulted him for campaigning for a reelection race he won after his arrest and then continuing to serve.
They noted that he learned that Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., whose board he sat on, had failed a drug trial when he received a telephone call while he attended the annual Congressional Picnic at the White House on June 22, 2017.
Knowing that Innate's stock would plunge when news got out, Collins “from the White House lawn” tried to reach his son to tip him off so he could sell his shares, prosecutors said.
They said he then conspired with family members to claim Cameron Collins and friends sold shares because they were spooked by a temporary halt in the trading of the stock rather than because they knew the stock price would fall 92% for the company headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in Auckland, New Zealand.