Rep. Chris Collins acknowledged during an interview last week that his federal indictment on insider trading charges has proven difficult for him and his family.
Part of that stems from companion charges also leveled against his son, Cameron, and his prospective father-in-law, Stephen Zarsky. Asked how his son was doing, the congressman said he was coping.
“He’s doing fine,” Collins said. “Obviously, there is a little stress there.”
Troubles began for both Collinses on June 22, 2017, when the Clarence Republican attended the annual congressional picnic on the White House grounds. At around 7 p.m. he received an email from the chief executive officer of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian company in which Collins was a director and its largest shareholder.
“I have bad news to report,” the email began, according to the indictment returned on both Collinses.
Innate’s primary business involved developing a drug called MIS416 to fight multiple sclerosis. But the drug, the CEO said in an email to his board of directors, had failed its latest trial.
“No doubt we will want to consider this extremely bad news,” the CEO continued.
The news triggered a 92 percent decline in Innate’s stock price when it became public a few days later. But for the moment, the trial’s results were known by only a few company insiders.
“Wow,” Collins typed back, according to the indictment. “Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???”
But, according to federal prosecutors, the congressman within 15 seconds called his son. Cameron, with his father’s financial help, had also become a major investor in Innate Immunotherapeutics.
The congressman said last week that his son’s wedding to fiancée Lauren Zarsky remains on despite the charges surrounding the two families.
“They’re two peas in a pod,” he said.