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Chris Collins pleads 'not guilty' at insider trading charge arraignment

NEW YORK – Rep. Chris Collins told a federal judge "I plead not guilty" Wednesday afternoon at his arraignment in Manhattan on insider trading charges.

Judge Vernon Broderick set bail at $500,000 for Collins and his son, Cameron. The congressman was also told he also must surrender his diplomatic license and any firearms he might own. The judge set Oct. 11 for a status hearing in the case.

Collins entered the historic courtroom, with its dark wood and soaring ceiling, shortly after the proceeding started. “Anything you say can be used against you,” Broderick told the defendants.

Collins appeared calm as the judge went through his rights and took his plea. The court was about three-fourths full, with 20 or so media representatives in the rows.

Robert Allen, one of four assistant U.S. Attorneys at the prosecution’s table, said the government had acquired a “significant” amount of records, mostly electronic, in its case against Collins and the others.

Collins, Collins' son and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins' fiancee, all surrendered to federal authorities in New York City at about 7 a.m. Wednesday morning and were arrested, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said.

“No comment,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman as he left the courtroom. He watched the proceedings with other southern district lawyers in the back of the large courtroom usually reserved for ceremonial events. Earlier in the day, Berman outlined the case against Collins, his son and their friend.

Collins has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, seven counts of securities fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements to the FBI. His son and Zarsky face similar charges.

In an indictment unsealed Wednesday morning, prosecutors described what went on: They said that Chris Collins, a major shareholder in an Australian biotech company called Innate Immunotherapeutics, passed information to his son, who also is a major shareholder in the company, and he relayed inside information to others so they could time advantageous trades in the company.

Collins ignored a media throng outside the courthouse as he departed about 4 p.m. With reporters and photographers in tow, he walked to a black SUV and was driven away. He did not respond to questions shouted to him as tourists captured the scene on their smartphones.

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