Son of ex-US Rep. Christopher Collins spared prison

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Former U.S. Rep. Chris Collins arrives at federal court for sentencing Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, in New York. Collins pleaded guilty last fall to insider trading and lying to the FBI. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — The son of former U.S. Rep. Christopher Collins was spared a prison sentence Thursday after pleading guilty in an insider trading conspiracy with his father.

U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick ordered 27-year-old Cameron Collins to serve 500 hours of community service over the next five years. He also fined him $150,000.

Prosecutors had asked that he serve at least three years in prison and federal sentencing guidelines recommended it.

“Sentencing Cameron to a term of probation, or merely imposing a fine would risk sending the wrong message in this high-profile case: that prosecutions for insider trading are simply a price of doing business that can be written off by paying a fine,” prosecutors wrote in court papers.

Fighting tears before the sentence was announced, Collins told Broderick that he evaded $570,000 in potential losses by selling the stock of a small pharmaceutical company after his father told him that a study of the company’s sole drug had failed.

Prosecutors said $800,000 in potential losses by family and friends of the congressman were evaded in all.

The elder Collins, a Republican who represented a congressional district in the Buffalo area and was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, sat on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., an Australian company with offices in Auckland, New Zealand. The father was sentenced last week to serve two years and two months in prison.

“I screwed up royally,” the son said of the trades he made in June 2017 before the stock price of Innate plunged 92% when the failed drug trial was announced publicly.

He said he lied to FBI agents who came to his home months later because he feared that if he told the truth, his father’s career would be over and he’d have to resign from Congress.

“All I can say is how deeply sorry I am,” he said. “I betrayed my core values.”

Collins, an Eagle Boy Scout like his father, pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to commit securities fraud.

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