NEW YORK (AP) — A judge must decide the fate of former U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins after his lawyers and prosecutors disagreed over how he should be punished for conspiring in an insider trading scheme.
U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick in Manhattan will sentence the 69-year-old Republican on Friday afternoon.
Collins' lawyers said he is sorry and should face no prison time. Prosecutors, though, said in written arguments to the judge that he should go to prison for nearly five years.
They said that Collins and his son, Cameron, were worth a total of $35 million when they conspired to sell shares in a pharmaceutical company before devastating news was made public. The trading, prosecutors said, enabled Cameron Collins and friends to dodge $800,000 in losses.
Collins, one of President Donald Trump's earliest supporters, had represented western New York since his election to the 27th Congressional District of New York in 2012.
He resigned when he decided to plead guilty to a single conspiracy count in October, but prosecutors faulted him for campaigning for a reelection race he won after his arrest and then continuing to serve.
They noted that he learned that Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., whose board he sat on, had failed a drug trial when he received a telephone call while he attended the annual Congressional Picnic at the White House on June 22, 2017.
Knowing that Innate's stock would plunge when news got out, Collins “from the White House lawn” tried to reach his son to tip him off so he could sell his shares, prosecutors said.
They said he then conspired with family members to claim Cameron Collins and friends sold shares because they were spooked by a temporary halt in the trading of the stock rather than because they knew the stock price would fall 92% for the company headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in Auckland, New Zealand.
His lawyers, though, have urged the judge to spare Collins from prison, citing his contrition, advanced age, charitable works and a low chance that he would commit any more crimes.
“Chris comes before the Court humbled, penitent, and remorseful,” the lawyers wrote. “The public humiliation will follow Chris and mar him for the rest of his life."