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Lev Parnas, ex-Giuliani associate, convicted of violating campaign finance laws

NBC News logo NBC News 10/22/2021 Dartunorro Clark and Tom Winter
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Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian businessman whose work with Rudy Giuliani made him a character in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, was found guilty of campaign finance crimes on Friday.

Federal prosecutors had accused Parnas, 49, and an associate, Andrey Kukushkin, of illegally funneling foreign cash into the 2018 midterms to Republican candidates to advance their own business interests.

“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," said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement. "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."

The trial, which began roughly two weeks ago, involved charges related to a series of political donations secretly made on behalf of a Russian national in an effort for the individual to get a foothold in the U.S. cannabis industry.


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

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The second scheme involved $325,000 in donations in May of 2018 that Parnas and Igor Fruman, an ex-Giuliani associate who pleaded guilty in September, made to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action through an LLC called Global Energy Producers. Federal investigators said Parnas then falsified federal election reports about that donation.

Parnas was convicted on all counts.

When Parnas was first arrested in October of 2019, he and Fruman were about to board a plane from the U.S. to Austria with one-way tickets.

At the time of their arrest, Fruman and Parnas figured prominently in an effort led by Giuliani to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, heading into the 2020 election. Those efforts later became part of Trump's first impeachment trial. Federal prosecutors did not mention that involvement in their indictment or court filings.

Parnas met with federal prosecutors and the FBI in March to discuss a possible plea agreement, according to court documents. Prosecutors said Parnas signed an agreement saying certain statements he made during that meeting could be used against him, and separately that certain statements could not be used against him.

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