Former GOP Rep. Chris Collins set to be sentenced in insider trading case

Key Points
  • Former Rep. Chris Collins pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements in an insider-trading case that led him to give up his seat in Congress.
  • Federal prosecutors want Collins to get nearly five years in prison.
  • Collins' lawyers have asked the judge for probation.
Former U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) exits federal court on October 1, 2019 in New York City.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Disgraced former Rep. Chris Collins faces sentencing Friday in the insider-trading case that led him to give up his seat in Congress.

U.S. Judge Vernon Broderick is scheduled to announce the sentence at 2:30 p.m. ET in federal court in lower Manhattan.

Federal prosecutors want Broderick to sentence Collins to nearly five years in prison — the top end of the federal guidelines range — to set an example that will "promote respect for the law, in light of the lack of respect that Collins has shown for it."

But Collins' lawyers have asked for probation.

"He has paid a heavy price for his crimes," one of his attorneys wrote in a court filing last week, claiming Collins is "now too ashamed to spend significant time in the community he loves."

Probation officers had recommended a sentence of a year and a day in prison, along with a $200,000 fine and a term of supervised release.

Collins, 69, was the first member of Congress to support then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 White House bid. Despite pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements, Collins has retained some support in his upstate New York district — and from high-profile Republicans like former House Speaker John Boehner — who have vouched for Collins' character in letters to the judge.

Collins pleaded guilty in October to tipping off his son Cameron in a phone call from the White House lawn about the results of an Australian biotech company's failed drug trial before the test results became public.

After the test was revealed, the stock price of the company — in which Collins was a leading investor and board member — tanked by more than 90%.

A day before Collins switched his plea to guilty, he submitted his resignation from Congress.

Cameron Collins saved nearly $600,000 by dumping his stock in the company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, before it disclosed the bad news. Chris Collins himself did not trade Innate stock after learning about the test results.

The younger Collins and Stephen Zarsky, his fiancee's father, will be sentenced next week in the insider trading case.

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