Former US Rep. Chris Collins pleaded guilty Tuesday in an insider trading case, a day after he resigned from Congress and set off a scramble to fill his seat in Republican-leaning district, the AP reports. Collins had initially denied charges he leaked confidential information about a pharmaceutical company and was set to go to trial next year in federal court in Manhattan on conspiracy, securities fraud and other charges. But on Monday, the court filed papers saying the Republican from western New York would be withdrawing his not guilty plea and he submitted a resignation letter to Congress. After his plea, Collins expressed regret and said he had failed his constituents. 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.
The case against the 69-year-old Collins stemmed from his business dealings with Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia. He was the company’s largest shareholder and sat on its board. According to the indictment, Collins was attending the Congressional Picnic at the White House in 2017 when he received an email from the company’s chief executive saying that a drug developed to treat multiple sclerosis had proven to be a clinical failure. Prosecutors accused him of immediately calling his son to share non-public information that allowed Cameron Collins and his fiancée’s father, to whom he in turn allegedly passed the information, to dump their shares and avoid nearly $800,000 in stock losses. Cameron Collins is expected to plead guilty on Wednesday.
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