Former Congressman Chris Collins Sentenced to Prison
Former Representative Chris Collins was sentenced to two years and two months in prison for charges related to insider trading and lying to cover it up.
The judge seemed troubled by the Collins legal team’s argument that the crime was an isolated act – just a stupid, panicked phone call made by an emotionally distraught father.
To the contrary, Broderick noted that after that phone call from the White House lawn, Collins spoke with his son several times over the next few days as Cameron Collins dumped his Innate shares.
Collins and his son could have stopped the illegal scheme at any time, the judge noted.
“There was time for folks to think about this and say: ‘What are we doing?’ ” he said.
The inside stock tip that prompted those illegal trades resulted in one of the two charges to which Collins pleaded guilty: conspiracy to commit securities fraud. But then Collins committed another crime: lying to the FBI about Cameron’s stock sales.
What’s more, Broderick indicated that he agreed with prosecutors that Collins, his son and Lauren Zarsky together concocted a cover story that all three shared with the FBI.
Adding it all up, the judge said: “I don’t view this as just a spur-of-the-moment loss of judgment.”
Instead, Broderick characterized the illegal stock trades and the effort to cover them up as an inexplicable attempt to save money by a wealthy businessman-turned-politician who had no reason to break the law.
“Some might say it was a venal choice,” the judge said.
And it was a choice with consequences far beyond Collins and his family. Collins’ resignation left New York’s 27th Congressional District without representation for months, the judge noted.
That seemed to be the only political observation the judge was willing to make. He said he read the dozens of letters he got from Collins’ supporters and critics – but stripped out the emotions and politics, instead relying only on the facts as he crafted Collins’ sentence.
And when one of Collins’ lawyers spoke of living in partisan times, the judge said: “Not here.”
After Broderick issued his sentence, Collins’ lawyers said he would like to serve it at the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola, Fla., which is the nearest such facility to Collins’ home in Marco Island, Fla. Broderick said he would recommend that Collins be sent to Pensacola, but the final decision will be up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
Despite his tears moments earlier, Collins appeared expressionless upon hearing the sentence, which drew raves from the prosecutors.
“Lawmakers bear the profound privilege and responsibility of writing and passing laws, but equally as important, the absolute obligation of following them,” said Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York – and a Donald Trump appointee. “Collins’ hubris is a stark reminder that the people of New York can and should demand more from their elected officials, and that no matter how powerful, no lawmaker is above the law.”