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Chris Collins would join list of former members of Congress with criminal records

When Chris Collins walks into court Tuesday in Manhattan — where he is expected to plead guilty to federal charges tied to an alleged insider-trading scheme — he will join a relatively exclusive list.

There have been at least 19 members of Congress since 1987 who were charged with a crime while still in office and who later were convicted or pleaded guilty, according to a review of previous media reports by The Buffalo News.

Collins, a Clarence Republican, was indicted in August 2018.

He resigned from Congress on Monday.

Once he pleads guilty, Collins joins the following company:

  • Rep. Mario Biaggi, D-N.Y., was convicted in 1988 of extorting stock worth $1.8 million from Wedtech Corp., a defense contractor, filing false tax returns, racketeering and perjury. He was sentenced in November 1988 to eight years in prison and fined $242,000, according to The New York Times.
  • Rep. Patrick Swindall, R-Ga., was convicted of nine counts of lying to a grand jury during a money-laundering investigation. In August 1989, he was sentenced to a year in prison, according to the Times.
  • Rep. Donald Lukens, R-Ohio, who was indicted on a misdemeanor charge relating to allegations he had sex with a 16-year-old girl, was sentenced in June 1989 to 30 days in jail and fined $500, according to United Press International.
  • Rep. Robert Garcia, D-N.Y., was convicted of conspiracy and extorting Wedtech Corp. of cash, loans and jewelry, according to the Times. After having served three months, his first conviction was overturned on appeal. In June 1992, he was sentenced to three years in prison, though a judge made him immediately eligible for parole.
  • Rep. Nicholas Mavroules, D-Mass., pleaded guilty to using his Congressional office as a racketeering enterprise; he failed to report income from the receipt of free car leases and a free beach house lease, according to the Boston Globe. In June 1993, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison, three years' probation and fined $15,000.
  • Sen. David Durenberger, R-Minn., after being indicted on felony fraud charges, pleaded guilty to five misdemeanors for cheating on his Senate expense account. In November 1995, he was sentenced to a year's probation and a $1,125 fine, according to UPI.
  • Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and in April 1996 was sentenced to 17 months in prison, according to the Chicago Tribune.
  • Rep. Mel Reynolds, D-Ill., was sentenced to five years in state prison after being convicted in April 1995 of sexual misconduct, child pornography and obstruction of justice. He was later sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison after being convicted in April 1997 on charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and lying to the Federal Elections Commission. His sentence was commuted by President Clinton in January 2001, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Rep. Wes Cooley, R-Ore., was indicted in December 1996 on charges he lied about military service on a voters' pamphlet. He was convicted of making a false statement in an official election document and sentenced to two years' probation, according to The Oregonian.
  • Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., D-Ohio, was indicted in May 2001 on racketeering, bribery, tax evasion and other charges. He was found guilty and was sentenced to eight years in prison, according to the Associated Press.
  • Rep. Bill Janklow, R-S.D., was convicted in December 2003 of second-degree vehicular manslaughter after speeding through a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. He was sentenced to 100 days behind bars as well as community service, a $5,000 fine and three years' probation, according to NPR.
  • Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., was sentenced in March 2006 to eight years and four months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to accepting more than $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
  • Rep. Robert W. Ney, R-Ohio, was sentenced to 30 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to corruption charges in October 2006 in connection with the investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to The Washington Post.
  • Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., was sentenced in November 2009 to 13 years in prison after being convicted of bribery charges. He was released five years into his prison term, following a Supreme Court ruling that limited the definition of political corruption, according to U.S. News and World Report.
  • Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., was sentenced to three years in prison in October 2013 after being convicted on racketeering, extortion and other federal charges, according to the Arizona Republic.
  • Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., was sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession in November 2013, according to tampabay.com.
  • Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., was sentenced in July 2015 to eight months in prison for filing false tax returns, according to Newsday.
  • Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., was sentenced in 2016 to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of bribery and money laundering, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. An appeals court overturned some of his convictions and he was sentenced again in July to the same 10 years in prison, according to the Inquirer.
  • Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., was sentenced in 2017 to five years in prison for convictions on wire fraud, mail fraud and other charges, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Running for re-election while facing criminal charges is tough, but not that rare

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