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Giuliani associate convicted on campaign finance charges

CBS News logo CBS News 10/22/2021 Clare Hymes
Giuliani Associates' Campaign Finance Trial Continues © David Dee Delgado / Getty Images Giuliani Associates' Campaign Finance Trial Continues

Lev Parnas, 49, a former business associate of Rudy Giuliani, was indicted in 2019 on charges that included violating a ban on foreign donations in elections, falsifying statements and documents, among other charges. He and co-defendant Andrey Kukushkin were found guilty on all counts.

"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," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement after the verdict. "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."

Jurors deliberated for about 5 hours total before rendering a verdict and Parnas' wife arrived minutes before the verdict was read. There was no reaction from Parnas but Kukushkin disapprovingly shook his head when his verdict was read. Kukushkin's sentencing is set for February 16, while Parnas sentencing date is still to be determined. Parnas could face a lengthy prison sentence, the charge of falsifying SEC records alone carries a potential 20-year sentence.

Outside of the courthouse, Parnas, who is out until sentencing, said that he was thankful that he could return to his family on Friday, rather than be taken into custody. His lawyer indicated that they would be filing post-verdict motions and indicated a potential appeal. 

Associate of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas (L) walks past criminal court on October 18, 2021 in New York City. Federal prosecutors are expected to rest their case later this week as Parnas faces charges related to two alleged campaign finance schemes. / Credit: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images © Provided by CBS News Associate of Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas (L) walks past criminal court on October 18, 2021 in New York City. Federal prosecutors are expected to rest their case later this week as Parnas faces charges related to two alleged campaign finance schemes. / Credit: David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Parnas was accused of falsely reporting a $325,000 donation to a pro-Trump Super PAC in 2018 called America First Action.


Video: Rudy Giuliani's associates with head to trial for alleged campaign finance violations (CBS News)

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They were alleged to have set up a phony company to conceal the source of the payments made to political campaigns which were funded by a Russian businessman, in return for political backing for their cannabis business venture. 

Parnas and Kukushkin were originally charged with two other co-defendants who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the case prior to the trial. Igor Fruman pleaded guilty in September to soliciting a political contribution from a foreign national, and David Correia pleaded guilty in October 2020 to two counts and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. 

Both men are now U.S. citizens, but Parnas, who was born in Ukraine, and Fruman, originally from Belarus, allegedly assisted the former president's personal attorney's efforts in Ukraine to try to dig up damaging information on Joe Biden's son Hunter, who was on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company.

They were arrested in October 2019 at Dulles International Airport as they were about to board an international flight on one-way tickets according to the U.S. Attorney's office. 

Parnas participated in the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment investigation while Fruman did not, and the plea agreement Fruman  signed with the government does not include a cooperation provision.  

Erica Brown contributed to this report.

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