U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick is scheduled to sentence Collins on Friday. Prosecutors have recommended the New York Republican receive the “top end” of the sentencing guidelines — 46 to 57 months in prison.
Collins allegedly tipped off his son to confidential information about an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, that he learned as a member of its board. Collins and several others used the information to avoid more than $700,000 in losses, according to prosecutors.
Collins once called the charges against him “meritless” but resigned in September and entered a guilty plea. He also reached a separate settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Collins’s son, Cameron, and another family member have also pleaded guilty. They are scheduled to be sentenced next week.
He “has paid a heavy price for his crimes. He is, and will forever be, tortured with the knowledge that his actions have caused his son, to whom he always aspired to be a role model, to live with the stain of a felony conviction, and perhaps serve time in prison,” Collins’s attorneys, Jonathan New and Jonathan Barr, said in a court filing earlier this month.
Barr and New did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on prosecutors’ recommendation on Monday but have told the court that the former congressman should receive probation.
“Chris comes before the Court humbled, penitent, and remorseful,” they said in a court filing. “He acknowledges that his criminal conduct was serious and betrayed the values he spent a lifetime advocating and pursuing.”
Given his age, 69, and “prior good and charitable acts,” the attorneys said, Collins should be sentenced to probation, home confinement, community service and a “substantial fine.”
Collins represented New York’s 27th Congressional District, which encompasses suburban and rural areas stretching east of the Buffalo metropolitan area, for more than five years.
He was among Trump’s earliest endorsers and spoke in support of the president even after being indicted.
Collins served on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics, which was developing a new therapy for multiple sclerosis, and was its largest shareholder, according to a federal indictment. While at the June 2017 congressional picnic at the White House, Collins received an email from Innate Immunotherapeutics’s chief executive alerting the company’s board that an eagerly anticipated drug trial had been a failure, according to court filings. Minutes later, the filings said, Collins responded to the email: “Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???”
Collins immediately tried to contact his son, who owned millions of Innate Immunotherapeutics shares, according to the indictment. Within a few minutes, according to court filings, Collins and his son called each other six times before connecting and talking for six minutes. During that call, Collins told his son about the failed drug trial, according to the indictment, which cites phone and bank records as well as texts.
With that insider knowledge, Collins and his family were able to avoid significant losses before the news became public and the company’s stock price fell more than 90 percent, prosecutors allege.
“As a member of Congress at the time that he committed the offenses in this case … Collins was better situated than almost anyone else to understand the societal importance of following the law,” prosecutors said in Monday’s court filing. But “Collins came to embody the cynical idea that those in power who make the laws are not required to follow them.”
Collins’s attorneys downplayed the seriousness of his conduct. Unlike other insider trading cases “which involve regulated market participants conducting multi-year schemes with multiple stocks and multiple illegal tips, the insider trading conduct in this case involved one security and occurred over a few days,” they said in a court filing. “Chris’ ruinous decision to tip his son was isolated, spontaneous, and emotionally driven.”