WASHINGTON – Former Rep. Chris Collins on Monday won five more weeks of freedom before he has to report to federal prison after pleading guilty to insider trading charges.
Without comment, U.S. District Court Judge Vernon S. Broderick approved a motion that Collins' lawyers filed Friday requesting the delay.
The move means Collins will report to prison on April 21 instead of March 17.
Federal prosecutors did not protest the delay, which stems from the fact that the Federal Bureau of Prisons still has not decided where Collins will spend his time in federal prison.
"Our understanding, through a search of (the Bureau of Prisons) inmate locator is that Mr. Collins has not yet been processed into the (Bureau of Prisons) system," the Collins attorneys said in their letter to the judge. "We further understand based on a call with the United States Marshals Service that it appears that the paperwork required for (Bureau of Prisons) to start the designation process may not have been transmitted to (Bureau of Prisons) prior to" last Friday.
Completing that designation process – that is, deciding the prison where an inmate will do his time – typically takes 30 to 45 days, Collins' lawyers said in the letter.
That being the case, "we anticipate that an additional five weeks will allow sufficient time" for the Bureau of Prisons to process Collins, the letter stated.
Broderick in January sentenced Collins to 26 months in federal prison, but Collins, 69, could be freed in as little as 17 months based on good behavior and a break that older prisoners can get under federal sentencing reform.
At his Jan. 17 sentencing, Collins requested that he serve his sentence at a federal prison camp in Pensacola, a minimum security facility in Florida with about 800 inmates. Collins said he prefers the Florida facility because it is the nearest such prison to his home in Marco Island, Fla., where he moved shortly after pleading guilty.
Collins, a Republican who lived in Clarence while serving in Congress, was elected to four terms serving New York's 27th Congressional District, a largely suburban and rural swath of territory between Buffalo and Rochester.
He was arrested in August 2018. In an 11-count indictment, prosecutors accused Collins of launching an insider trading scheme with a phone call to his son, Cameron, from a picnic on the White House lawn 13 months earlier. Cameron Collins was arrested as well, as was Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins' fiancée.
The congressman insisted for more than a year that he was innocent, but then last October resigned from Congress and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to an FBI agent. Cameron Collins and Zarsky also pleaded guilty. Broderick spared those two men prison time, instead sentencing them to probation.
A special election to fill Collins' seat will be held April 28. It pits State Sen. Christopher L. Jacobs, a Republican, against Nate McMurray, the former Grand Island supervisor and Democrat who narrowly lost to Collins three months after the congressman's arrest.