NEW YORK CITY (WIVB) — Chris Collins was on Friday sentenced to 26 months for his conviction on conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI.
The former congressman for New York’s 27th District was also handed down one year of supervised release and a $200,000 fine.
Collins last year pleaded guilty to insider trading, as did his son Cameron Collins and his son’s father-in-law, Stephen Zarsky, who were both tipped off. That allowed them to save hundreds of thousands of dollars, as alleged by prosecutors in the indictment Collins pleaded guilty to.
Federal prosecutors recommended that Collins serve between 46 and 57 months in prison. Collins’ attorneys sought probation. Probation officers recommended he spend a year and a day in prison.
“It’s a big swing,” said Cheryl Meyers Buth, a legal analyst and attorney at Meyers Buth Law Group. “I find in my practice it’s the most stressful time for a defense client because you won’t know until you’re standing in front of a judge what he’s going to do.
“You won’t know – are you going to federal prison are you going to a halfway house? Are you going to be on probation and what the conditions of probation are going to be?”
Judge Vernon Broderick received some 200 letters from members of the public – supporters, longtime critics, family members and former constituents in NY-27.
Collins represented the district in Washington until the day he resigned. NY-27 reaches from the outskirts of Buffalo to outside of Rochester, and contains some or all of eight Western New York counties. The district has remained without a U.S. House representative since.
First elected to Congress in 2012, Collins had little difficulty being re-elected in 2014 and 2016 as his district was long considered one of the most solidly Republican in New York, but the beginning of the end of his political career came on the White House lawn two and a half years ago.
June 22, 2017
Rep. Chris Collins attends the congressional picnic at the White House. The indictment against him states he made phone calls to his son about the stock in question while at the picnic.
Collins can be seen talking on his phone in this video.
Oct. 12, 2017
The House Ethics Committee says they have “substantial reason to believe” Chris Collins “shared material nonpublic information.” A spokesperson for Collins said the accusations against him are false, and called the move a political witch hunt.
Aug. 8, 2018
Rep. Chris Collins was charged with insider trading: In a criminal complaint, federal prosecutors accused Collins, who served on the board of an Australian biotech company, of telling his son Cameron about negative results of some of the company’s clinical trials before they were released to the public. After the results went public, the company’s stock dropped 90 percent in one day.
Collins, Cameron Collins, and Zarsky were each charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to the FBI.
Aug. 11, 2018
Collins announces he will suspend his re-election campaign, but maintains that he is innocent.
Sept. 9, 2018
A month after his indictment, Collins speaks exclusively with News 4’s Dave Greber.
Sept. 19, 2018
Collins reverses course and says he will actively run for re-election in November.
Nov. 1, 2019
A representative for Collins announces that the Congressman will not debate his opponent, Democrat Nate McMurray.
Nov. 6, 2018
Collins narrowly defeats McMurray in race for 27th Congressional District.
Aug. 6, 2019
In a new indictment, some of the security fraud charges against Collins and Cameron Collins are dropped.
Sept. 10, 2019
Pretrial motions in Collins’case came back against the congressman. A federal judge ruled that the information used to charge Collins isn’t protected under federal law because the searches didn’t involve official accounts or congressional offices.
Sept. 12, 2019
For the first time since his indictment, Collins misses a vote in Washington to be in court. Outside of court, Collins maintains innocence, says he is undecided about running for re-election but is confident if he did run he would “win in a landslide”.
Sept. 30, 2019
Chris Collins hands in his letter of resignation in NY-27. The letter was sent to Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The announcement came in advance of a change of plea hearing for both Collins’ and Zarsky, rescheduled for the following day.
Oct. 1, 2019
Hours prior his guilty plea, Collins’ resignation letter was read aloud on the floor of the House, making his stepping down official.
A federal official said Collins’ guilty plea did not require him to step down, and that he did so voluntarily.