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Giuliani’s ex-partner convicted of violating US campaign finance law

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Lev Parnas, a former partner of Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was convicted on Friday of violating US campaign finance laws in the 2018 election.

Parnas, an American businessman born in Ukraine, and his former partner Igor Fruman had been accused of soliciting funds from Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev to donate them to candidates in states where the group was seeking licenses to operate cannabis businesses in 2018.

Parnas also concealed that he and Fruman, who pleaded guilty in September, were the real source of a donation to a group supporting then-Republican President Trump, prosecutors said. Giuliani’s attorney said the Parnas case was separate from an investigation into whether lobbying laws were violated by representing Trump.

Giuliani, a US prosecutor in the 1980s before being elected mayor of New York in 1994, has not been charged with any crime and denies committing wrongdoing.

Parnas was convicted of all six counts of federal electoral law violations he faced, including unlawfully helping a foreigner to contribute to a US election campaign, making contributions on behalf of others, and lying to the Commission. federal election (FEC).

Rudy Giuliani delivers remarks before Donald Trump’s rally with his supporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States, September 28, 2016. (REUTERS / JONATHAN ERNST)

Andrey Kukushkin, an associate of Muraviev and a California resident who was tried alongside Parnas, was convicted on Friday on two counts of campaign finance violations. Kukushkin is also originally from Ukraine.

The lawsuit in Manhattan U.S. District Court drew attention because of the role Parnas and Belarus-born U.S. citizen Fruman played in helping Giuliani, who was Trump’s personal attorney while in office, to investigate Democrat Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign. Biden won the election, denying Trump a second term.

Parnas, clad in a blue suit, stared at the jury as the verdict was read. Kukushkin, wearing a gray sweater, shook his head after being convicted of the second count.

“I never hid from anyone,” Parnas said as she left the court wearing a black “Fight COVID” mask. “I always stood up and tried to tell the truth.”

His lawyer Joseph Bondy said they would file a motion to quash the verdict “in the interests of justice”.

“It is obviously a very difficult time for Mr. Parnas, his wife and his children,” said Bondy.

US District Judge J. Paul Oetken has denied prosecutors’ request to detain Parnas and Kukushkin. “The defendants have sufficiently established that they do not pose a flight risk,” Oetken said after the jury left.

Oetken has set a February 16 sentencing date for Kukushkin. He has not set a sentencing date for Parnas, who faces another possible trial on separate fraud charges.

“WELL ABOVE HIS HEAD”

The case provided insight into the inner workings of political fundraising in the United States.

“You have seen Muraviev’s sons,” Deputy US Attorney Hagan Scotten told the jury during Thursday’s oral argument. “You saw how that money came out the other side, ending up in the US election, where the defendants believed they had bought influence to move their business forward.”

Parnas’ defense attorneys countered that Muraviev’s funds were for business investments, not campaign contributions, and that the donation to the pro-Trump group was from a company founded by Parnas and no. had broken no laws.

In his closing statement, Parnas’ lawyer Bondy called his client a passionate supporter of legalizing marijuana who was “way over his head.” He argued that Muraviev’s money funded business operations, not campaign contributions.

Trial deliberations began Friday morning and lasted about five hours.

Fruman, who lives in Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting campaign contributions from a foreign national. His sentencing is scheduled for January 21.

Parnas and Kukushkin had faced two counts of conspiracy to donate from a foreign national and to donate. Parnas had also been charged with four other charges, including making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

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