Former congressman Chris Collins pleads guilty to conspiracy, lying to FBI

State News

Collins pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI, each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison

NEW YORK (WROC) — A U.S. Congressman one day, a convicted felon the next.

Former Rep. Chris Collins pleaded guilty to two charges: Conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to the FBI.

Each charge Collins pleaded guilty to carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for January 17.

Collins arrived at a Manhattan courthouse for a hearing around 2 p.m. Tuesday, hours after he formally resigned from the House of Representatives.

Collins’ son and his son’s fiancee’s father are also charged.

Collins served on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, an Australian biotechnology company. Collins learned of the negative results of some clinical trials for the company, and told his son Cameron about the results before they were released to the public.

Collins admitted he received the news of the failed drug test Tuesday in federal court.

“I was in a very emotional state, I called my son Cameron. I made it clear that the trial had not succeeded,” Collins told the judge.

Collins was elected as a Republican four times to Congress for NY-27, a district spanning much of western New York, including the Buffalo suburbs and stretching into the Finger Lakes.

With Collin’s departure, it will be up to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to set a special election to replace him. The governor said in radio interview Tuesday that the timing remains uncertain for an election that’s expected to now draw even more candidates to an already crowded field.

“The question is, when can I do it?” Cuomo said. “But sooner rather than later is my inclination.”

Before Collins’ resignation, three Republicans had launched campaigns since the spring while others had said they were waiting to see whether Collins would seek another term. The declared Republicans are attorney and former judge Beth Parlato, state Sen. Christopher Jacobs, a former New York secretary of state and Erie County clerk, and state Sen. Robert Ortt, a veteran and former North Tonawanda mayor.

Meanwhile, an effort to recruit Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia to run has been underway for months, led by Republican strategist Michael Caputo, who advised President Donald Trump’s campaign. The Iraq war hero ran for Congress in 2012 and lost to Collins in the Republican primary. Bellavia has not said whether he will enter the race.

For the Democrats, Nate McMurray, whom Collins narrowly defeated in 2018, already had committed to a rematch.

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