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Former U.S. congressman Collins sentenced to 26 months for insider trading

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NEW YORK — Chris Collins, a former U.S. congressman from New York who was an early backer of President Donald Trump, was sentenced to 26 months in prison and fined $200,000 on Friday after pleading guilty to taking part in an insider trading scheme.

Collins, 69, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements in October in federal court in Manhattan, a day after resigning his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was convicted of trading on insider information while a board member and a 16.8% stakeholder of Australian biotechnology company Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd.

An emotional Collins addressed the courtroom during the afternoon sentencing hearing.

“I violated my core values and there is no excuse,” he said as he apologized to his family, constituents and to the FBI for lying to them.

Although Collins faced a maximum of five years in prison for each of the two charges, prosecutors agreed as part of a plea deal that a reasonable sentence would be a total of less than five years.

“I don’t view this as just a spur of the moment loss of judgment,” U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick said during the hearing.

After learning from an email sent by Innate Immunotherapeutics’ chief executive that an experimental multiple sclerosis drug had failed a clinical trial, Collins relayed the news to his son, allowing him to sell shares before the news became public and eroded their value. His son also passed the tip on to others.

A few months after he was criminally charged in 2018, Collins narrowly won re-election to the 27th Congressional District in western New York. (Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Leslie Adler)

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