Ex-Giuliani Buddy Lev Parnas Convicted in Illegal Foreign Influence Operation

  • In Politics
  • 2021-10-22 19:58:51Z
  • By The Daily Beast
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty  

Lev Parnas, the disgraced Republican donor and former Rudy Giuliani pal, was found guilty by a New York jury Friday of making illegal campaign donations intended to influence politicians, the Associated Press reported.

He was convicted on five counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of filing a false report with the Federal Election Commission. He could face up to five years in prison for each of the campaign finance charges and 20 years in prison for the false FEC report.

Parnas, one of the many characters in Giuliani's quest to tie Joe Biden to Ukraine, had been on trial for two weeks over the illicit operation, which included donations made to Trump-aligned PACs on behalf of Russian donor Andrey Muraviev. The donations, made just before the 2018 election cycle, were part of an effort to launch a marijuana business.

"These men shoveled thousands and thousands of dollars of foreign money to U.S. politicians, laughing about how they were breaking the law along the way," Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Flodr said during her opening statement. "That is what secret foreign money infiltrating an American election looks like."

The initial 2019 indictment also alleged Parnas tried to influence politicians to remove the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, though prosecutors elected not to pursue that charge.

The Soviet-born magnate denied ever using the money on behalf of Muraviev, though prosecutors showed how he curried favor in Republican circles, including among Trump colleagues such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, to obtain influence.

Parnas was convicted alongside Andrey Kukushkin, who hails from Ukraine and also denied his role in the operation.

Since Parnas' initial debut on the political scene in 2018, he has repeatedly shifted allegiances. After his role alongside Igor Fruman in helping Giuliani unveil any ties between then-Vice President Biden and Ukraine, Parnas disavowed the Trump empire entirely just as the former president went through his first impeachment because he felt they abandoned him during his initial arrest. "I felt like my family left me," he told The Daily Beast last year.

Parnas also faces federal charges related to his role at his company "Fraud Guarantee," including an allegation that he and business partner David Correia defrauded investors out of $2 million. While Correia was sentenced to a year in prison for the scheme after pleading guilty, Parnas faces a second trial.

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