A New York jury convicted a former associate of Rudy Giuliani on Friday of charges that he made illegal campaign contributions to influence U.S. politicians and advance his business interests.
Lev Parnas was on trial for more than two weeks as prosecutors accused him of using other people’s money to pose as a powerful political broker and cozy up to some of the nation’s star Republican political figures. Parnas was convicted on all counts. Giuliani wasn’t charged in the case.
The verdict comes two years after Parnas and his partner, Igor Fruman, were arrested at a Washington-area airport as they were boarding a flight to Vienna. The arrest came amid the House Democrats’ investigation — and eventual impeachment trial — of then-President Trump and launched two unknown Florida businessmen with shaky track records onto the global stage.
One part of the case alleged that Parnas and an associate made illegal donations through a corporate entity to Republican political committees in 2018, including a $325,000 donation to America First Action, a super PAC supporting Donald Trump. Parnas also made donations to other several prominent Republicans, including then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Another part of the case stated Parnas used the wealth of a Russian financier, Andrey Muraviev, to make donations to U.S. politicians, ostensibly in support of an effort to launch a legal, recreational marijuana business.
Lev Parnas is going to prison for federal campaign finance crimes. Michael Cohen went to prison for federal campaign finance crimes. Both were prosecuted by @TheJusticeDept. You know who else committed federal campaign finance crimes? Donald Trump.
He was individual 1, remember? https://t.co/emmZYtvo2T
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 22, 2021
“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 U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. “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.”
Parnas’ and Kukushkin’s conviction on campaign finance crimes is a feather in the SDNY USAO’s cap and lends some momentum to its broader probe into former SDNY chief Giuliani and his associates soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election.
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) October 22, 2021
The Ukrainian businessman was also convicted for using money from Igor Fruman and a fake company to funnel hundreds of thousands in political contributions to GOP and pro-Donald Trump committees and then lying about it to the Federal Election Commission. Fruman previously pleaded guilty.
I’m old enough to remember Rudy Giuliani saying he has insurance against Trump. Maybe now that Lev Parnas has been convicted on all counts he’ll have a chance to flip on and flip off Trump.
— Outspoken (@Out5p0ken) October 22, 2021
Parnas faces up to five years in prison for each of five counts and a sixth count for falsifying records to the FEC carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence. Sentencing for Parnas will likely be deferred given his pending second trial on one count related to the Fraud Guarantee allegations, the judge said. Kukushkin is scheduled to be sentenced in mid-February.