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The son of former U.S. Rep. Chris Collins pleads guilty in insider trading case

Oct 3, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) The son of former U.S. Rep. Chris Collins pleaded guilty Thursday in an insider trading case that ruined his Republican father's political career.

Cameron Collins admitted in his plea in federal court in Manhattan that he had traded stocks based an illegal tip from his Republican father, telling the judge, ``I truly regret my conduct.``

The 26-year-old son faces up to 46 months in prison at sentencing on Jan. 23. The father, who had represented western New York, and son had initially denied charges that Chris Collins leaked confidential information about a pharmaceutical company. But on Monday, the Republican from western New York and staunch supporter of President Donald Trump withdrew his not guilty plea and resigned from Congress the next day.

Collins, 69, pleaded guilty in the scheme on Tuesday saying in court that he was ``embarrassed and dismayed`` that he let down his constituents.

With Collins' departure, it will be up to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to set a special election to replace him. The governor has said the timing remains uncertain for an election that's expected to now draw even more candidates to an already crowded field.

The case against the 69-year-old Collins stemmed from his business dealings with Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Australia. He was the company's largest shareholder and sat on its board.

Collins was attending the Congressional Picnic at the White House in 2017 when he received an email from the company's chief executive saying that a drug developed to treat multiple sclerosis had proven to be a clinical failure.

``I was devastated by the news,`` Collins said in court Tuesday. While in a ``very emotional state,`` he made a phone call to his investor son so the son could unload his stock in the company before it made the bad news public, he added.

As a result, Cameron Collins and his fiancee's father, Stephan Zarsky, began selling their shares, allowing them to avoid a combined $800,000 in loses when the announcement caused the stock price to plunge 92%.

Zarsky also pleaded guilty on Thursday and faces up to 46 months in prison at sentencing on Jan. 24.