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Former Rep. Chris Collins pleads guilty in insider trading case

Jennifer Lewke, Charles Molineaux, and Dan Glickman
Updated: October 01, 2019 08:34 PM
Created: October 01, 2019 03:37 PM

NEW YORK CITY (WHEC) — Former Congressman Chris Collins has pleaded guilty to two charges connected to the insider trading case that ended his time in the House of Representatives.

Collins, a Republican who represented New York's 27th Congressional District, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and a count of making a false statement.

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He, his son, and the father of his son's fiancée were indicted in August 2018 on charges of fraud, conspiracy, and lying to the FBI. Collins was accused of tipping off family members to sell stock in a drug company before that stock tanked. 

Collins could face up to five years in prison on each charge. 

Collins resigned from Congress on Monday shortly after papers were filed saying he would be withdrawing his not guilty plea. 

According to News10NBC's Charles Molineaux, Collins spoke after his plea to reporters.

He said that he was very sorry and that he had great faith in the biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics, and he was devastated when the company's new multiple sclerosis drug failed its clinical trials.

Collins admitted that he knew that news would wreak havoc on the company's stock, and that he knew it was illegal for him to tell his son Cameron the news, knowing Cameron would sell his stock to avoid the loss. He said that in the process, he let down his family, friends, colleagues, and fellow shareholders, while being "anything but" a model citizen.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman says Collins' plea shows an important lesson.

"By virtue of his position, Collins helped write the laws of this country and acted as if the law didn't apply to him," he said. "This courthouse is a representation of the ideal of equal justice under law. No one is above the law."

Collins will be sentenced in January. Collins' son Cameron and Cameron's future father-in-law are due in court Thursday for their plea hearings. 

In the meantime, Collins' former constituents will still be able to reach out to Collins' office for help, but those staffers will now be working for the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives until a successor is elected. 

When asked when that successor could be elected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo implied that it would be sooner than later.

"2020 is a long time away and western New York deserves a seat, we have a lot going on in western New York, a lot of good things," he said on a radio program on Tuesday. "I would be inclined to fill the vacancy sooner rather than later, [but] I have to review the law, Alan, on the timing. Once I declare an election, there's a certain amount of time to do it. I don't believe legally I can call for it this November which would be convenient because people are going to the polls already."

As for who might run for Collins' former seat, there are several candidates who had already announced their run for the seat. As multiple Republicans have already announced their candidacy, a primary election will likely be needed first.


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