New York congressman to plead guilty in insider trading case

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By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Chris Collins, a Republican U.S. congressman from New York, is expected to plead guilty on Tuesday in a case charging him with taking part in an insider trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company.

Collins’ son, Cameron Collins, and another man, Stephen Zarsky, are also scheduled to plead guilty in the case on Thursday, court records show.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, whose office is prosecuting the case, declined to comment. Lawyers for Chris and Cameron Collins and for Zarsky could not immediately be reached.

Chris Collins represents New York’s 27th Congressional District, which includes areas surrounding Buffalo and Rochester. He won reelection last November, three months after he was criminally charged.

The criminal case relates to Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd, a company for which Christopher Collins sat on the board and held a 16.8% stake.

Prosecutors allege that in June 2017, while attending the congressional picnic at the White House, Collins learned in an email from Innate’s chief executive that a clinical trial for its proposed multiple sclerosis drug MIS416 had failed.

Collins immediately told the trial failure news to his son, who in turn told his fiancée, Lauren Zarsky, and her parents, Dorothy and Stephen Zarsky, prosecutors allege.

Christopher Collins did not trade his own Innate stock, which lost millions of dollars in value. Prosecutors said the congressman was “virtually precluded” from trading in part because he already faced a congressional ethics probe over Innate.

However, prosecutors said others used the insider information to avoid more than $768,000 in losses when Innate’s share price plunged 92% after news of the MS drug’s failure became public.

Lauren and Dorothy Zarsky were not criminally charged, but reached civil settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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