On October 22, a US jury found Ukrainian-born US citizen Lev Parnas, a former associate of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, guilty of breaking campaign finance laws in the 2018 election. .
Parnas was convicted of all six counts of violating federal election law he faced, including unlawfully aiding a foreigner to contribute to a US election campaign, making contributions on behalf of others and lying. at the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
New York City prosecutors said Parnas used funds from Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev to make political contributions to candidates while lying about the source of the money.
Parnas and his former associate Igor Fruman, a Florida businessman of Soviet descent, have been accused of soliciting funds from Muraviev to donate to candidates in states where their group was seeking licenses to operate cannabis companies in 2018.
Parnas also concealed that he and Fruman were the true source of a donation to a group supporting former US President Donald Trump, prosecutors said.
Another Muraviev associate, Ukrainian-born American citizen Andrey Kukushkin, was on trial alongside Parnas. Kukushkin was convicted of only one of the criminal charges.
Lawyers for the defendants argued during the trial that the two men were not involved in campaign contributions but instead conducted business, including on behalf of an energy company and legal startups in the marijuana industry.
After the guilty verdicts were announced, Parnas said he never hid anything.
“I always stood up and tried to tell the truth,” he said as he left the court.
In his closing statement, Parnas lawyer Joseph 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.
Bondy said he would file a motion to quash the verdict “in the interests of justice”.
US District Judge J. Paul Oetken denied prosecutors’ request to detain Parnas and Kukushkin. Oetken has set February 16 as a sentencing date for Kukushkin but has not set a sentencing date for Parnas, who faces another possible trial on separate fraud charges.
The trail gained attention because Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani pressure Ukrainian government officials to produce political filth on then-presidential candidate Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election campaign.
At the time, Giuliani was Trump’s personal lawyer, and his association with Parnas and Fruman in 2019 helped trigger Trump’s first impeachment.
Giuliani, who served as a US attorney in the 1980s before being elected mayor of New York in 1994, has not been charged with any crime and denies any wrongdoing.
Fruman pleaded guilty in September to one count of soliciting a campaign contribution from a foreigner.