Congressman appears in court for insider trading case

Chris Collins

U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., speaks to reporters as he leaves the courthouse after a pretrial hearing in his insider-trading case, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. congressman and early supporter of President Donald Trump said Thursday he doesn’t know if he’ll seek re-election next year as he emerged from a court hearing Thursday where it seemed increasingly likely that his inside trading trial might be delayed from February until next summer.

A later trial for Rep. Christopher Collins would fall after the June election primaries and make the criminal charges faced by the Republican a bigger focus of any campaign fight.

In court, Collins repeated his not guilty plea to a rewritten indictment before emerging from the Manhattan courthouse to express his optimism about beating the charges and his confidence about re-election prospects should he decide to run.

“I’m very confident if I do, I will win,” he said of a re-election decision he plans to make by the end of the year.

“If I decide to run, I’m ready, well-funded,” Collins added.

Collins said he looks forward to being exonerated on charges he leaked information about a biopharmaceutical company as friends and family dodged $800,000 in stock losses. Prosecutors recently streamlined the criminal charges in a superseding indictment to speed the trial.

But it became clear at Thursday’s hearing that thorny legal issues might force a trial delay.

U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick asked defense lawyers to let him know by Sept. 23 whether they want to immediately appeal some of his rulings to the federal appeals court in Manhattan. If they do, it could force a delay to a trial scheduled to start Feb. 3.

Prosecutors said the charges stem from Collins’ decision to share with his son insider information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia, with offices in Auckland, New Zealand. Collins was the company’s largest shareholder, with nearly 17% of its shares, and sat on its board.

According to the indictment, Collins was attending the Congressional Picnic at the White House on June 22, 2017, when he received an email from the company’s chief executive saying that a trial of a drug the company developed to treat multiple sclerosis was a clinical failure.

Collins responded to the email saying: “Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???” the indictment said.

It said he then called his son, Cameron Collins, and, after several missed calls, they spoke for more than six minutes.

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