Coronavirus hits prisons: Ex-GOP Rep. Chris Collins' surrender date delayed two months as inmates, guards infected

Key Points
  • A federal judge ordered that former Rep. Chris Collins' prison surrender date be delayed by two months, after defense attorneys said Collins has a high risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus.
  • Collins, 69, was sentenced in January to 26 months in prison for one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of lying to the FBI.
  • Lawyers for the disgraced Buffalo-area congressman asked the judge to postpone Collins' surrender date to June 23. U.S. District Court Judge Vernon Broderick granted the request later that day.
Former Representative Chris Collins, a Republican from New York, exits a federal court in New York, U.S., on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020.
Peter Foley | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A federal judge granted a two-month delay on Wednesday for the prison surrender of former GOP Rep. Chris Collins after his lawyers argued he has a high risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Collins' surrender postponement until June 23 is the latest example of disparities in how the pandemic is being handled by the criminal justice system in prisons and jails. 

Dozens of corrections guards have tested positive for the disease and some inmates have died after being infected.

A number of people in jail who have not been convicted of crimes have been denied requests for release after they argued they were at risk of catching the virus while locked up.

Collins, 69, was sentenced in January to serve 26 months in prison for conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI. He originally was due to surrender on April 21.

Collins, while representing a Buffalo, New York, area district, was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

His lawyers in a filing Wednesday in Manhattan federal court argued that it would be "dangerous for an elderly person with underlying health conditions" to be incarcerated "in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the United States."

Attorneys asked Judge Vernon Broderick to postpone Collins' surrender until June 23.

Broderick granted the request on the same day as the filing.

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