Collins’ lawyers considering decision that could affect trial schedule

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NEW YORK (WIVB) – The attorneys representing Rep. Chris Collins in his upcoming insider trading trial now have until September 23rd to make a decision that could have an impact on the trial date.

Collins, his son Cameron, and Cameron’s future father-in-law Stephen Zarsky are currently scheduled to go to trial on February 3, 2020. They all face securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy charges. Each are also accused of lying to the FBI.

The elder Collins, who was a board member for drug-maker Innate Immunotherapeutics, allegedly passed his son a tip about a failed drug trial. Prosecutors say Cameron Collins then tipped off Zarksy before the two dumped their stock, saving them a combined $714,800.

“We have our defense. We’ve not put that on yet. As I said and continue to say, I’m innocent,” Chris Collins told reporters after a hearing in federal court in Manhattan Thursday.

At the hearing, Jonathan New, Collins attorney, told Judge Vernon Broderick that he is still considering filing an appeal to a recent ruling by Broderick. Last Friday, the judge denied Collins request to force prosecutors to turn over more evidence. Collins believes the evidence may prove that his constitutional rights were violated over the course of the investigation.

Specifically, Collins believes his Speech and Debate rights were violated. The Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution protects certain actions of congresspeople while they are at work. Collins would have to appeal Broderick’s decision by September 23rd.

If that decision is appealed, the case against Collins might not be able to go to trial in February. In a letter sent to Broderick on September 3rd, Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, expressed concern over that potential.

“(A)ny adjournment of the trial date will risk pushing the trial in to the 2020 primary and general election cycle, a complication (we) warned of at the conference when the February 3 date was set,” Berman wrote.

Collins has not yet decided whether he will seek re-election in 2020.

In the letter, Berman also raised the potential of proceeding with the February trial date in the prosecution of only Cameron Collins and Zarksy. In such a scenario, Collins would be tried alone, separately. All three defendants objected to that plan during Thursday’s hearing.

“We believe it should be one,” Rep. Collins said. “It was one indictment, one instance that they’re alleging.”

But Broderick did not shoot down the idea.

“I want to preserve that trial date, whether it’s with three defendants or two,” Broderick said.

All other pre-trial motions, including motions to dismiss charges, must be made by October 7th.

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