Dozens investigated in federal case against Congressman Chris Collins

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– A prominent Buffalo businessman and the former campaign chairman of Congressman Chris Collins were part of the federal probe that led to the indictment of the Clarence Republican.

In fact, according to federal court documents that are part of the case against Collins, those two men saved themselves from tens of thousands of dollars in losses, when they dropped stock before their investment took a dive.

The documents are part of affidavits filed in July 2018 by one of the FBI agents investigating Collins’ possible wrongdoing.

Collins is charged with insider trading and lying to the FBI.

Federal prosecutors say he divulged privileged information about a failed drug trial to his son and other friends and family, to save them from losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A few months after Collins was called before a federal grand jury, the FBI agent asked a judge to search the electronic devices of Collins’ former campaign chairman Chris Grant, and one of his political donors, Buffalo businessman Gerald Buchheit.

Grant declined to comment, but the agent’s affidavit says the stock dump saved him more than $11,000.

Gerald Buchheit, a longtime donor to Collins’ campaigns, is also accused of selling off his stock shares upon learning of the drug trial failure.

Buchheit is most recently known for his plans to build a mixed-use condominium complex at the outer harbor, a project that’s drawn controversy because opponents say it will have negative impacts on the environment and city skyline.

Neither Buchheit nor Grant have been charged with any crimes.

But the recent news has already become part of the local political conversation.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz jumped on the opportunity to call out Grant, a long time Republican campaign opponent. Grant also happens to lead the campaign of Poloncarz’s current opponent, Lynne Dixon.

Poloncarz on Friday called on Dixon to fire Grant, and his company, Big Dog Strategies, and for her to publicly confirm or deny whether she, because of her association with Chris Grant, ever benefitted from insider information.

Then he went a step further.

“I’ve called on not only my opponent to terminate Mr. Grant and his firm, Big Dog Strategies from performing work on her campaign, I’m also calling on others in local parties. You need to do the same thing. You need to cut ties with Mr. Grant,” Poloncarz said.

An accusation which Dixon says shows just how “desperate” Poloncarz is.

She says Poloncarz has his own skeletons, relating recent troubles by prominent Democrats, and the county commissioners under the current administration who have resigned amid scandal.

She says Poloncarz is focused on settling decade-old political scores and not the real issues facing county voters.

Buchheit not only contributed to the Collins campaign. He’s contributed to the political campaigns of Poloncarz as well.

The County executive said today, he would give back some $24,000 in contributions from the Buffalo businessman.

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