Manhattan Federal Court pronounced the verdict. Lev Parnas had been on trial for over two weeks. He was accused of using money from other people to pretend to be a political broker and to cozy up to prominent Republican politicians.
Parnas and an associate were accused of illegally donating through a corporate entity in 2018 to Republican political committees, including a donation of $325,000 to America First Action (a super PAC that supported former President Donald Trump).
Another part claimed that he used the wealth and connections of Andrey Muraviev (Russian financier) to make donations to U.S. politicians. This was allegedly to support a plan to legalize recreational marijuana.
Parnas, age 49, was convicted of all charges.
Through his lawyer, the Soviet-born Florida businessman insisted that he had never used Russian money to make political donations. As the verdict was read, he briefly closed his eyes. He then shook his head.
Parnas stated, "I have never hid from anyone." Outside the courtroom, after the verdict was delivered, Parnas declared, "I've always stood up for the truth."
Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born investor, was also convicted for being part of Muraviev’s scheme to use Muraviev’s money for political donations. He also denied any wrongdoing.
This case was interesting because Parnas' involvement in Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukrainian officials involved in investigating Joe Biden's son, Igor Fruman (a former co-defendant), had attracted attention.
Giuliani is still under criminal investigation while authorities determine whether his interactions in Ukraine with officials required him register as a foreign agents. However, he was not alleged to be involved in illegal campaign contributions.
However, the case provided a close look at Parnas's entry into Republican circles in 2018, with a pattern for campaign donations large enough to get him meetings of party stars.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated in a statement that the defendants illegally funneled foreign funds into the 2018 midterm elections in order to gain influence over American politicians and candidates. He also said that they had a plan to make huge profits in the marijuana business. Campaign finance laws were created to safeguard the integrity of free and fair elections, unencumbered or influenced by foreign interests. It is vital to preserve the freedoms Americans cherish.
Parnas, Fruman, and a company that supplies energy, were accused of orchestrating donations to U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas) and other House Republican committees.
Trump and Giuliani were not mentioned much during the trial. However, a photograph of Parnas and the Florida Governor was. Ron DeSantis (a Republican) was one of the first exhibits presented to jurors during closing argument. Jurors were also able to view a video of Giuliani and Parnas during deliberations.
DeSantis was one of those who received campaign donations that were traced back to $1 million that Parnas, Fruman and Muraviev received from Muraviev. Muraviev has been involved with several U.S. marijuana ventures.
Around $100,000 of Muraviev’s money was used to pay campaign contributions in what Assistant U.S. attorney Hagan Scotten described as a conspiracy to bring his "wealth" and corruption into American politics, in violation of U.S. laws that prohibit foreign donations to U.S. candidates.
Scotten stated, "The voters wouldn't know who was funding our elections."
Adam Laxalt, former Nevada Attorney General, is now running for U.S. Senate. He testified that Parnas, a boastful Parnas, suggested that he could raise hundreds and thousands of dollars in 2018. Laxalt's lawyers advised him to decline a $10,000 check, but he eventually got through with it.
Joseph Bondy, Parnas' lawyer, called the allegations against his client "absurd."
In his closing argument, he argued that Muraviev’s money was used to support legal marijuana businesses seeking expansion.
Gerald Lefcourt, Kukushkin’s lawyer, tried to portray him as an inept dupe in the scheme. He was mocked behind his own back by participants who were mentally challenged.
After the verdict, the prosecution asked for Parnas' and Kukushkin's immediate imprisonment, citing the risk of flight. However, the judge granted them bail to wait for their sentencing.
Fruman pleaded guilty to one count of solicitation for a contribution by an alien national earlier in the year. He is awaiting sentencing.
David Correia was also guilty of the crime and was sentenced to one year in prison. He defrauded investors in an insurance company which had paid Giuliani $500,000 in consulting fees.
Parnas is awaiting a second trial in relation to that scheme.
Giuliani insists that he did not know anything about illegal campaign contributions made by Fruman or Parnas. Trump was the former mayor of Kiev, and he didn't have to register as an agent foreign agent.