Former Congressman Chris Collins sentenced to 26 months in prison for insider trading

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NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 17: Former US Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) enters US District Court ahead of a sentancing hearing on January 17, 2020 in New York City. Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump, pleaded guilty in October 2019 to charges of insider trading in relation to securities of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotechnology company on whose board of directors he served. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Courtesy: Gettyimages

(CBS) — Former Congressman Chris Collins was sentenced Friday to 26 months in prison for his role in an insider trading scheme. He pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to law enforcement officials.

Collins, the first member of Congress to back President Trump, was indicted in August 2018 for using inside information about a biotechnology company to help his son make illicit stock trades. The indictment charged Collins, his son and the father of his son’s fiancee with conspiracy, wire fraud and other counts.

Collins broke down in court on Friday, according to The Associated Press. “I stand here today as a disgraced former member of Congress,” he said. “My life has been shattered.”

Collins, a Republican who had represented Buffalo since 2013, resigned in October after he pleaded guilty.

Chris Collins at his sentencing. CHRISTINE CORNELL

Prosecutors said Collins learned at a White House picnic in 2017 that a pharmaceutical company whose board he sat on had failed a drug trial. He then called his son “from the White House lawn” to try to get him to sell his shares before the stock plunged on the news, prosecutors said.

CBS News’ Sara Cook and Arden Farhi uncovered video of Collins on the phone, at what appears to be the same time federal investigators claim Collins was making the call to his son to tell him to sell the stock.

Prosecutors said the trading allowed Collins’ son Cameron and his friends to avoid $800,000 in losses.

Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron’s fiancee, have also pleaded guilty.

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