Representative Chris Collins Charged with Insider Trading

Representative Chris Collins, the Congressman for New York State’s 27th District, was charged on Wednesday with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and false statements originating from an alleged insider trading scheme regarding an Australian pharmaceutical company. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 150 years in prison. WBEN spoke to criminal defense attorney Paul Cambria about the charges against Collins and what the penalties could be. The full story is available on the WBEN website.

Penalties could be substantial

Mr. Cambria told WBEN that he was not surprised that the investigation into Representative Collins culminated in an indictment. He explained that he had a chance to read part of the indictment and that it contains “the typical insider trading allegations, conspiracy, and then forfeiture counts where they basically say if you’re convicted then we want you to forfeit all the proceeds.” He went on to say that the penalties from the federal government could be substantial. “You’re talking 10 years, 20 years maximums. Obviously if he’s convicted and incarcerated, he won’t be able to continue as a congressman,” Mr. Cambria explained.

Determining timeline

WBEN asked Mr. Cambria how the government might determine the timeline of events in this case in order to narrow it down to something that can be proven in court. “The indictment lists a number of email and communications back and forth among the parties,” Mr. Cambria said. He explained that the government will most likely go through those communications to determine if insider trading took place. “That’s kind of been the focus of the investigation from the very beginning,” Mr. Cambria went on.

Mr. Cambria explained that, if there is a feeling that the case against Collins is politically motivated, that is a legitimate issue to raise. He pointed out that many of these cases can be handled civilly, but that the authorities take insider trading very seriously and that even celebrities such as Martha Stewart have served prison sentences for this crime.

Election effects

Collins represents the 27th Congressional District of New York State, which encompasses Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, and Livingston counties, as well as parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Ontario counties. Because the charges against Collins were made public so close to an election in which he is running, WBEN asked Mr. Cambria if there is any concern about the timing of these allegations and whether they could affect the election. Mr. Cambria responded that this is a “valid observation” and that it could have “a huge impact on [Collins’] ability to be reelected. But,” Mr. Cambria said, “I think that’s the least of his problems.”

Mr. Cambria was then asked if he thinks the President will make a statement about the charges against Collins. Mr. Cambria responded that it seems likely that he will. “This was a close confidant of his,” he explained. “If you think about it, Collins was the first congressional member to endorse [Trump] and kind of his PR guy in government, if you will.”

Mr. Cambria went on to say that Collins was “always defending everything the President did for the most part. So I’m sure the President will reciprocate in some way.”

About Paul J. Cambria, Jr.

The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.