Update: Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who was a figure in former President Donald Trump's first impeachment investigation, was sentenced Wednesday to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes by a judge who said fraud had become “a way of life” for Parnas. The 50-year-old had sought leniency on grounds that he’d cooperated with the congressional probe of Trump's efforts to get Ukrainian leaders to investigate President Biden's son Hunter, the AP reports. The judge also ordered Parnas to pay $2.3 million in restitution to victims of schemes including Fraud Guarantee, a fraudulent Florida-based business that promised it could protect people against fraud. Our story from Oct. 22, 2021, follows:
A New York jury convicted a former associate of Rudy Giuliani on Friday of charges that he made illegal campaign contributions to influence US politicians and advance his business interests. The verdict was returned in Manhattan federal court, the AP reports, where 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.
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 former President Donald Trump. Another part said he used the wealth of a Russian financier, Andrey Muraviev, to make donations to US politicians, ostensibly in support of an effort to launch a legal, recreational marijuana business. Parnas, 49, a Soviet-born Florida businessman, insisted through his lawyer that he never used the Russian's money for political donations.
A co-defendant, Ukraine-born investor Andrey Kukushkin, was convicted of being part of the effort to use Muraviev's money for political contributions. The case had drawn interest because of the deep involvement of Parnas and a former co-defendant, Igor Fruman, in Giuliani's efforts to get Ukrainian officials to investigate President Biden's son during Biden's 2020 campaign. Giuliani remains under criminal investigation as authorities decide whether his interactions with Ukraine officials required him to register as a foreign agent, but he wasn't alleged to have been involved in illegal campaign contributions and wasn’t part of the New York trial. Parnas awaits a second trial in connection with another alleged scheme.
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