Igor Fruman arrives in federal court for an impeachment hearing on October 23, 2019 in New York City.
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NEW YORK Igor Fruman, a former partner of besieged lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pleaded guilty on Friday to soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign national, nearly two years after being charged with crimes, including making illegal donations to a pro-Trump political action campaign.
Fruman and his business partner Lev Parnas, a co-accused in the same case, had worked with Giuliani in an attempt to unearth damaging information about President Joe Biden in Ukraine when Biden became one of the then president’s main challengers. , Donald Trump.
The plea change hearing in Manhattan federal court came as Giuliani, who acted as Trump’s personal attorney, faces an ongoing criminal investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District from New York.
Giuliani, who denies any wrongdoing, served two terms as mayor of New York City after leading that same prosecutor’s office for years.
Fruman, born in Ukraine, was initially charged with 10 crimes.
But in court on Friday, he agreed to plead guilty only to one count relating to soliciting contributions to the U.S. campaign from a foreign national in what prosecutors said was an attempt to obtain state-issued recreational marijuana business licenses for a cannabis business that ultimately never took off from the ground.
Fruman said the money was sought from a foreign businessman who wanted to invest in the cannabis company that Fruman and others were pursuing.
Campaign donations were intended for government officials, Republicans and Democrats, in states preparing to legalize marijuana.
“I deeply regret my actions and apologize to the United States court and government for this conduct,” Fruman told Judge J. Paul Oetken, after admitting that he knew such fundraising campaigns aliens were illegal under US law.
Protest against Donald Trump by Rise and Resist in United States District Court in New York, September 10, 2021.
Kevin Breuninger | CNBC
Fruman’s plea came in an agreement with prosecutors that led to the other charges being dropped, but he did not agree to a deal that would require him to cooperate with federal prosecutors in any ongoing investigation.
His sentencing was scheduled for January 21 and he remains free on bail. The plea deal states that federal sentencing guidelines suggest Fruman receive a prison term of between three years and three years and 10 months.
But Oetken is not bound by these guidelines.
Fruman’s attorney, Todd Blanche, declined to answer reporters’ questions as he left the courthouse with Fruman in lower Manhattan after the plea hearing.
Parnas and a third defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, who have both pleaded not guilty, are expected to stand trial in the same courthouse on October 12 on charges related to the alleged use of straw campaign donors to hide the source of the donated money and canvassing campaign. contributions from foreigners.
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A fourth defendant, David Correia, pleaded guilty last October to misleading investors in a company he started with Parnas, a company called Fraud Guarantee.
The pair were accused of using more than $ 2 million in investor money for personal expenses instead of business.
Giuliani has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in advisory fees from Fraud Guarantee.
During her guilty plea, Correia admitted to 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 company, as Correia claimed, the money actually came from a mortgage granted to Fruman.
Correia, who also did not have a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors, was sentenced in February to one year in prison.
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