By MARIE FIERO
Former Republican Rep. Chris Collins’ son and his son’s fiance’s father pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges related to an insider trading case.
At their change-of-plea hearing in Manhattan Federal Court Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. They face up to five years in prison.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong immediately,” said the younger Collins.
His co-defendant was equally contrite.
“My moment of weakness will haunt me for the rest of my days,” said Zarsky as his voice broke.
Collins was scheduled to be sentenced on January 23 and Zarsky on the following day.
On Tuesday, Rep. Collins pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to federal investigators. He faces up to 10 years in prison. He resigned from his seat in congress on Monday.
The indictment accused Rep. Collins of learning in advance in 2017 that Innate Immunotheraputics had failed a critical trial for a drug to cure multiple sclerosis. Collins owned some 17 percent of shares in the drug company. He was accused of warning his son to sell his stock in the company.
He reportedly called his son seven times from a congressional picnic on the White House lawn after receiving an email that explained Innate had failed the test. He reportedly saved his son from $570,000 in losses after the stock prices dropped. The younger Collins advised Zarsky to sell his and his daughter’s shares in the company.
Zarsky’s daughter was not charged.
In 2018, though he was under indictment, Rep. Collins was re-elected in his Western New York district, narrowly beating the Democratic contender. He had served as the representative of that district since 2012. He was known to be one of the richest members of congress.
Rep. Collins first rose to fame as the first sitting member of congress to endorse Donald Trump in his 2016 presidential campaign.