What is there about Donald Trump that draws criminals to him? There are the 2016 Trump campaign members charged in the Mueller investigation. His private attorney sits in prison as we speak. Now, this guy gets charged.
Christopher Collins was the first member of Congress to sign onto the Trump bus. Now, the Republican representative from New York has just changed his plea from innocent to guilty of illegal insider trading.
Last year, Collins was charged with sharing non-public information about an Australian biotech company with his son and his son’s fiancee’s father, Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky respectively. The company was Imate Immunotherapeutics, Ltd, according to Bloomberg. They are charged with a conspiracy among other charges.
According to prosecutors, Collins was one of the biggest shareholders in the corporation. He was not able to offload his shares of the company. Instead, he gave his son a heads up about the poor results in its clinical trial. The drug was created to treat “a form of multiple sclerosis.” Since the representative was on the company’s board, he had free access to information not available to the public. Collins knew that its drug did not work.
After his father called, the younger Collins shared the information with “his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s mother, Zarsky and a friend,” according to prosecutors. They sold 1.78 million shares and saved themselves a $768,000 loss.
Prosecutors said this was the first insider-trading crime for a member of Congress. Representative Collins said that law enforcement authorities violated his constitutional rights when they seized evidence from his staff.
He is currently changing his plea, which will be heard in a Manhattan, New York federal court. Last year, he pled not guilty, but now he wants to change that to guilty. Both his son and Zarsky are on the docket to plead guilty this week.
Just last week Collins defended Donald Trump in the Democrats’ impeachment investigation, calling it a “witch hunt.”
Collins asked a judge for permission to review material that indicated the investigation into him and his family “breached a constitutional provision limiting official inquiries into legislative matters.”
He moved to appeal the ruling based upon the seizure of evidence “violated the Speech or Debate Clause, which protects members of Congress from arrest and prosecution based on their political views
The judge denied the request.
Collins can still keep his seat after a felony conviction. However, the GOP stripped him of his committee assignment. Plus, he could no longer vote in Congress. Should he resign his seat, the GOP could run a fresher individual in 2020. He won in 2018 by fewer than 1,000 votes while he was already indicted, even though he represents a strong Republican district in western New York.
The three defendants were scheduled to go to trial in February 2020.
A spokesperson for U.S. attorney in Manhattan James Margolin, Geoffrey Berman had no comment. The case is U.S. v. Collins, 18-cr-567, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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