Thursday, December 2

Former Rudy Giuliani Associate Convicted of Illegal Campaign Contributions | US News


A New York jury on Friday convicted Lev Parnas, a former Rudy Giuliani associate who had close access to Donald Trump, of making illegal campaign contributions.

The verdict was delivered in Manhattan federal court, where the Soviet Union-born Florida businessman was accused of using other people’s money to pose as a powerful political broker and reach out to Trump and other prominent Republicans.

The case attracted interest due to the deep involvement of Parnas and a former co-defendant, Igor Fruman, in Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden during the presidential election.

Trump was first indicted for the scheme, sparking speculation about whether Parnas might have damaging information. Trump was acquitted in the Senate.

Giuliani remains under criminal investigation while authorities decide whether his interactions with Ukrainian officials forced him to register as a foreign agent. The former mayor of New York has had his licenses to practice law suspended in New York and Washington DC. But he is not alleged to have been involved in illegal campaign contributions and was not part of the Parnas trial in New York.

Giuliani has insisted that he knew nothing about the illegal contributions of Parnas or Fruman. The former mayor says that everything he did in Ukraine he did on behalf of Trump and that there is no reason why he would have had to register as a foreign agent.

A portion of the case decided Friday alleged that Parnas and an associate made illegal donations through a corporate entity to Republican political committees in 2018, including a $ 325,000 donation to America First Action, a pro-Trump Super Pac.

Another party said Parnas used the wealth of a Russian financier, Andrey Muraviev, to make donations to politicians apparently in support of an effort to launch a recreational marijuana business.

Parnas, 49, was convicted on all charges. Through his lawyer, he said he never used Muraviev’s money for political donations. As the verdict was read, Parnas closed his eyes and shook his head.

A co-defendant, Ukrainian-born investor Andrey Kukushkin, was found guilty of being part of the effort to use Muraviev’s money for contributions. He also denied any wrongdoing.

“To gain influence with American politicians and candidates, [Parnas and Kukushkin] illegally funneled foreign money into the 2018 midterm elections with a view to making huge profits in the cannabis business, “said US Attorney Damian Williams.

“Campaign finance laws are designed to protect the integrity of our free and fair elections, unhindered by foreign interests or influences, and safeguarding those laws is essential to preserving the freedoms Americans hold sacred.”

In addition to the $ 325,000 donation to America First Action, made through an energy company, prosecutors said Parnas and Fruman orchestrated donations to Pete Sessions, a congressman from Texas, and to committees that support other Republicans.

Giuliani and Trump were not mentioned much at the trial. A video of Giuliani with Parnas was one of the exhibits that jurors were able to see during the deliberations. A photograph showing Parnas with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was one of the first exhibits at the closing arguments.

DeSantis was among those who received contributions that prosecutors said date back to the $ 1 million that Parnas and Fruman received from Muraviev, who has been involved in various cannabis ventures. About $ 100,000 went to contributions in what Assistant United States Attorney Hagan Scotten called a conspiracy to secretly bring “Muraviev’s wealth and corruption into American politics.”

“Voters will never know whose money is invested in our elections,” Scotten said.

Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, now a Republican candidate for the United States Senate, testified that Parnas suggested he could raise hundreds of thousands for himself in 2018. He received a check for $ 10,000 that Laxalt was recommended to reject.

Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, called the allegations “absurd” and insisted that Muraviev’s money was used to support legal marijuana businesses. Kukushkin’s attorney, Gerald Lefcourt, tried to portray his client as an unconscious dupe.

Prosecutors called for the immediate imprisonment of Parnas and Kukushkin, citing the risk of flight, but the judge allowed them to remain free on bail while awaiting sentencing.

Fruman pleaded guilty to a single count of solicitation by a foreign national. Wait sentence. Another co-defendant, David Correia, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in prison for crimes that included defrauding investors in a company that paid Giuliani $ 500,000. Parnas awaits judgment in relation to that plan.

On Friday, Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California sought political capital from Parnas’s conviction by linking his name to Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer who was convicted in 2018, in part for payments to women claiming affairs with Trump. .

“Lev Parnas is going to prison for federal campaign finance offenses”, Lieu wrote. “Michael Cohen went to prison for federal campaign finance crimes … Do you know who else committed federal campaign finance crimes? Donald Trump. “

The former president finds himself in various forms of legal danger, amid investigations of his financial affairs in New York and his attempt to overturn the election results in Georgia. But although Cohen implicated Trump in payments to women, referring to him as “Guy 1,” the investigations have been abandonment.




www.theguardian.com

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