Chris Collins will be sentenced Friday. What kind of sentence will he receive?

Jan 17, 2020
Originally published on January 17, 2020 10:53 am

Chris Collins will learn his fate Friday afternoon in a Manhattan courtroom. 


Perhaps no one but U.S. District Court Judge Vernon Broderick knows what Collins’ sentence will be, but hundreds of pages of court documents filed over the last week and a half may provide some insight.


Prosecutors want the former Congressman to serve nearly five years in prison, writing that Collins should receive a sentence on the high-end of his 46-to-57-month sentencing guidelines. 


“A sentence at the top end of the Guidelines range is necessary to assure the public that those in power do not stand above the law,” U.S. attorneys wrote in their sentencing submission Monday.


Collins, who represented New York’s 27th congressional district, resigned from Congress and pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI.


Collins, a board member of Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics, received an email June, 22, 2017 that the company’s multiple sclerosis drug failed clinical trials. Collins, while on the White House lawn, called and tipped off his son, Cameron, allowing Cameron to dump his stock in the company and avoid losses. 


Cameron Collins and his future father-in-law, Stephen Zarsky, will also be sentenced for insider trading Jan. 23.


Collins’ attorneys are seeking probation and home confinement. In their sentencing submission last week, they argued Collins’ career-ending felony conviction is punishment enough.


“He also carries the heavy burden of having caused his family significant pain, shame, and torment, which can never be undone,” wrote Jonathan Barr of Baker Hostetler law firm. “It is difficult to imagine a more painful punishment for a devoted father.”


Collins’ friends, family, business partners and even former congressional colleagues are also asking for leniency. They submitted more than 100 letters claiming that Collins’ insider trading was momentary lapse of judgment.


Broderick may not buy that argument. 


The federal judge filed an order Wednesday asking prosecutors and Collins’ attorneys 26 questions, including several pointed questions for Collins’ attorneys. 


“How can the argument that Defendant Collins committed an emotional and impulsive act on June 22, 2017 be reconciled with his lying to law enforcement approximately ten months later?” Broderick wrote.


Broderick asked several other questions that scrutinized Collins, including whether he issued any false statements or press releases about the insider trading case after being indicted. 


Collins, a Republican, maintained his innocence and stayed in the 2018 race after being indicted, eventually winning re-election by a slim margin over Democrat Nate McMurray. Many of Collins’ former constituents criticized him for this in their letters to the judge.


The 27th congressional district has been without representation since Collins resigned. A special election is likely to be held during the Democratic presidential primary April 28.


Broderick may consider, but is not beholden to, the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Systems’ recommended sentence. Probation officials suggest Collins serve a year and a day in prison, in addition to paying a $200,000 fine.


Collins’ sentencing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday.

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