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Rep. Chris Collins resigns from Congress, expected to plead guilty Tuesday

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WASHINGTON (WROC/AP) — Rep. Chris Collins has announced his resignation from the House of Representatives, Speaker Pelosi’s office says.

Collins, a Republican congressman from western New York, is expected to plead guilty in an insider trading case that has hung over his head for a year, according to court records filed Monday.

A federal judge in Manhattan has scheduled a hearing for Collins to enter a guilty plea in the case Tuesday afternoon. A similar hearing has been scheduled Thursday for the congressman’s son, Cameron Collins.

Since the initial indictment, Collins has maintained his innocence.

Collins’ attorney didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment Monday. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment.

The court filing didn’t specify which charges Collins would plead guilty to. He was accused of both insider trading and lying to the FBI during the investigation.

Collins, who was among the first members of Congress to support President Donald Trump’s run for the White House, had been scheduled to go to trial next year on charges he illegally leaked confidential information about a biopharmaceutical company to his son, allowing Cameron Collins and another man to avoid nearly $800,000 in stock losses.

Letter addressed to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The case, filed in August of 2018, initially caused Collins to drop a reelection bid, but he restarted his campaign a month later as Republican leaders were deliberating who would replace him on the ballot.

At the time he said the “stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress.”

The charges turned Collins’ expected easy reelection in a strongly Republican district into a close race, but he managed to fend off Democratic challenger Nate McMurray by a thin margin.

A conviction would likely lead to Collins’ resignation from Congress. The most serious charge carries a potential prison term of up to 20 years.

The charges stem from Collins’ decision to pass on information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia. Collins was the company’s largest shareholder, with nearly 17% of its shares, and sat on its board.

Prosecutors said Collins was attending a picnic at the White House on June 22, 2017, when he received an email from the company’s chief executive saying a drug the company developed to treat multiple sclerosis had failed a clinical trial.

“Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???” Collins responded by email.

Prosecutors said he then called his son, Cameron Collins, who is accused of passing along the information to his fiancée’s father.

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