Collins proclaims innocence, presses on for re-election

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 August 2018 at 9:31 pm

Photo courtesy of Howard Owens/The Batavian – Chris Collins, joined by his wife Mary Sue, speaks to reporters on Wednesday evening at Embassy Suites in Buffalo. He was arrested earlier in the day for insider trading and lying to federal law enforcement officers.

Congressman Chris Collins, accused of insider trading and lying to the FBI, said he is innocent of the federal charges against him and will remain on the ballot and press for re-election this November.

Collins, his son Cameron and Cameron’s fiance’s father-in-law faced a 13-count indictment in federal court this morning. They pleaded not guilty and are free on $500,000 bail.

Collins, speaking to reporters in Buffalo at about 8 p.m., said he will mount a vigorous legal defense while running for a fourth term in Congress, representing the 27th District which includes Orleans and seven other WNY counties.

“I look forward to being fully vindicated and exonerated, ending any and all questions relating to my affiliation with Innate,” Collins said.

Collins is a major stockholder Innate Immunotherapeutics, a pharmaceutical company based in Australia. Collins also was a member of Innate’s board of directors.

He is accused of tipping off investors, including his son, that the company failed a clinical trial for a drug that Collins hoped who be a big breakthrough in helping people with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

His son and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron’s fiancé, both allegedly quickly sold Innate stock before news of the failed clinical trial was public. Cameron Collins and Zarsky avoided $768,000 in losses, according to the indictment.

Collins said he couldn’t address the charges during his news conference, instead vowing to fight the accusations in court.

Collins touted his experiences in the private sector, creating hundreds of jobs and then his efforts to solve the financial challenges in Erie County when he was recruited to run as county executive.

He was been an investor in Innate since before he was Erie County Executive and later when he was elected to Congress about six years ago.

He blamed “political opponents” for attacking his support of Innate. He remains optimistic Innate will develop a drug that will improve the lives for people suffering from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

“Over the years, I invested heavily in Innate (and) became the company’s largest shareholder and an uncompensated member of its board of directors,” Collins told reporters. “Without my investment and steadfast financial support, the company would have gone under, bringing with it a premature end to a drug that I truly thought would revolutionize treatment options for secondary progressive M.S.”

Collins also posted this tweet late in the afternoon: “I am proud to represent the people of #NY27. The charges being brought against me are meritless and I intend to fight to clear my name. I will continue to work hard for the people of #NY27 and earn your vote this November.”

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