- Giuliani associate Lev Parnas was convicted on 6 campaign finance-related charges after a high-profile trial.
- His co-defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, was also found guilty of the two charges against him.
- Both men were accused of illegally funneling a Russian businessman’s money into US campaigns.
Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian business associate of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, was found guilty on Friday of six counts of campaign-finance charges following a high-profile trial in Manhattan. His co-defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, was also convicted of two charges against him. Two other defendants who were charged in the case, Igor Fruman and David Correia, previously pleaded guilty, while Parnas and Kukushkin went to trial.
Parnas and Kukushkin were accused of funneling $1 million from the Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev, $150,000 of which prosecutors said illegally went to US campaigns. Prosecutors said the defendants funneled the money in a bid to gain political backing and licenses for their marijuana venture.
“There was an agreement to bring Andrey Muraviev’s wealth and corruption into American politics,” assistant US attorney Hagan Cordell Scotten told jurors. “It is plain as day that these defendants agreed to donate Muraviev’s money to US political campaigns.”
Scotten added: “There’s nothing wrong with being Russian and there’s nothing wrong in selling marijuana with a license. You just can’t donate to American politicians to get that license.”
“Make no mistake, the purpose behind this conspiracy was influence-buying,” Scotten said, according to Law & Crime.
Muraviev has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
Parnas’ defense attorney, Joseph Bondy, argued that the donations were legitimate and called the allegations against his client “poppycock.”
“There was no effort to hide anything whatsoever,” he said, according to Politico. “There was no effort to make a donation in the name of another person whatsoever. This is not some hidden payment through some shell company that’s designed to mislead.”
CNN reported that Parnas faces up to five years in prison for each of five counts against him, and that the sixth count accusing him of falsifying records to the Federal Election Commission carries a 20-year maximum sentence. Each of the two counts Kukushkin was found guilty of carries a five-year maximum prison sentence, per CNN.
Prosecutors asked on Friday that Parnas and Kukushkin be immediately remanded to prison, but US District Judge Paul Oetken refused the request, noting that the defendants were not a flight risk.