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Former Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted in campaign finance case, including illegal donation to Trump PAC

CNBC logo CNBC 10/22/2021 Dan Mangan
  • Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, was found guilty Friday of federal campaign finance criminal charges.
  • Parnas previously played a role in the first impeachment of then-President Donald Trump, having helped Giuliani in an effort to dig up dirt on President Joe Biden in Ukraine.
  • Giuliani, who has acted as Trump's lawyer, is a former federal prosecutor and mayor of New York.
Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-American businessman and former Giuliani associate, leaves the United States Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York, October 13, 2021. © Provided by CNBC Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-American businessman and former Giuliani associate, leaves the United States Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York, October 13, 2021.

Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, was found guilty Friday of multiple federal campaign finance criminal charges that included funneling illegal donations to a political action committee supporting then-President Donald Trump.

Another man, Andrey Kukushin, also was convicted by the same jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, a day after prosecutors and defense lawyers rested their cases following a two-week trial.

Both men were accused and convicted of using money from a Russian man named Andrey Muraviev for donations to U.S. political candidates in a purported effort to start a recreational marijuana business. Foreigners are barred from making political donations in the United States.

Parnas, 49, also was convicted of making illegal donations to PACs that supported Republicans, committees, which included a Trump super PAC.

A Florida resident who was born in the former Soviet Union, Parnas previously played a role in Trump's first impeachment, cooperating with Democratic investigators in that case.

Parnas had helped Giuliani in an effort to dig up dirt on President Joe Biden in Ukraine.

Trump had withheld congressionally approved military aid for that country while pressuring its president to investigate the Democrat Biden.

Giuliani, who has acted as Trump's lawyer and amplified his false claims about losing to Biden only because of widespread election fraud, is a former federal prosecutor and mayor of New York.

President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, September 20, 2019. © Provided by CNBC President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has coffee with Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, September 20, 2019.

Giuliani was not charged in the case. But he remains under investigation by federal authorities in New York over questions of whether he was obligated to register as a foreign agent.


Video: Former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas found guilty of making illegal campaign contributions (MSNBC)

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U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, in a statement, said, "A unanimous federal jury has found that Lev Parnas and Andrey Kukushkin conspired to manipulate the United States political system for their own financial gain."

"In order to gain influence with American politicians and candidates, they illegally funneled foreign money into the 2018 midterm elections with an eye toward making huge profits in the cannabis business," said Williams, who holds the same post that Giuliani once held.

Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-American businessman and former Giuliani associate, arrives at the United States Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 21, 2021. © Provided by CNBC Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-American businessman and former Giuliani associate, arrives at the United States Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 21, 2021.

"Campaign finance laws are designed to protect the integrity of our free and fair elections – unencumbered by foreign interests or influence – and safeguarding those laws is essential to preserving the freedoms that Americans hold sacred."

Two other men originally charged in the case previously pleaded guilty.

One of them, Igor Fruman, had been business partners with Parnas, and had worked with him and Giuliani on the effort to obtain damaging information about Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who had business interests in Ukraine.

Fruman pleaded guilty last month to a single count of soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign national.

His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21. Fruman's plea agreement stipulates that federal sentencing guidelines suggest that he receive a prison term of between three years and three years and 10 months.

David Correia, pleaded guilty last October to misleading investors in a company he had started with Parnas, a firm called Fraud Guarantee.

Both men were accused of using more than $2 million in investor money on personal expenses instead of the business. Giuliani had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from Fraud Guarantee.

Correia admitted lying to federal election officials about the source of a $325,000 donation to the pro-Trump PAC. Instead of coming from a natural gas firm, as Correia claimed, the money actually had come from a mortgage granted to Fruman.

Correia in February was sentenced to one year in prison.

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