WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors charged Rep. Christopher Collins, R-N.Y., one of President Donald Trump's earliest congressional supporters, with insider trading on Wednesday.
Collin's son, his son Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins's fiancee were also charged.
The indictment is related to Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company, on whose board the congressman served. Collins illegally shared nonpublic information about the company with Cameron Collins, who traded on the information, according to federal prosecutors. Cameron Collins then passed that information along to Zarsky. The trades allowed Collins, his son, and Zarsky to avoid $768,000 in losses, according to the indictment.
In a statement, attorneys representing Collins said they "will mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name."
"It is notable that even the government does not allege that Congressman Collins traded a single share of Innate Therapeutics stocks. We are confident he will be completely vindicated and exonerated," the statement said.
Collins, 68, has represented New York's 27th congressional district, which encompasses suburban and rural areas stretching east of the Buffalo metropolitan area, since 2013. It is a heavily Republican district, having voted for Trump by 24 points in 2016, and has not appeared on most political forecasters' target lists for a potential Democratic takeover in the November midterms.
He was an early backer of Trump and has been one of the president's most ardent and outspoken supporters in the House.
Collins has also very publicly boasted of his ties to Trump and the benefits he could bestow. Reporters overheard him near the House floor earlier this year talking on the phone and proclaiming he'd created millionaires in Buffalo.
Collins has been under scrutiny for his role in promoting Innate Immunotherapeutics, which had been developing a new therapy for multiple sclerosis before a high-stakes clinical trial failed last year, essentially putting the company out of business.
In October, the Office of Congressional Ethics found "substantial reason to believe" that Collins violated federal law and House rules by meeting with federal officials in his congressional capacity to seemingly benefit the firm and also that he shared private information about the company in order to solicit investments in the company.
The House Ethics Committee is reviewing the Office of Congressional Ethics report but has not taken action against Collins.
A news conference to detail the charge is scheduled for noon in Manhattan.