Prosecutors seek maximum prison sentence for ex-Rep. Chris Collins

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By Tom Winter  with NBC News Politics
Image: Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves court after a pre-trial hearing i
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves court after a pre-trial hearing in his insider-trading case on Sept. 12, 2019.   -   Copyright  Seth Wenig AP file

Federal prosecutors in New York on Monday asked a judge to sentence former Rep. Christopher Collins, R-N.Y., to the maximum of nearly five years in prison for his role in an insider trading scheme.

Collins, who was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president,pleaded guilty to the charges in October. He was accused of using nonpublic information stemming from his relationship with an Australian medical biotech firm to help his family make illegal stock trades to avoid more than $768,000 in losses.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements. He resigned from Congress immediately after the plea.

Prosecutors say he invented statements and lied to federal agents when questioned about the stock sales and insider information he received while being on the board of Innate Pharmaceuticals.

They wrote in the sentencing memo, "Collins is wrong to assert that "society . . . will gain no benefit" from incarcerating an extraordinarily sophisticated and powerful businessman and politician who twice made the choice, notwithstanding the absence of any material want, to commit a serious crime."

They said that "in committing insider trading and later lying to federal agents to cover it up, and in continuing to actively serve in the House of Representatives during that time period, Collins came to embody the cynical idea that those in power who make the laws are not required to follow them."

Collins, through his attorneys, has previously argued for no jail time.

He'll be sentenced on Jan. 17.