Lev Parnas: Former Giuliani associate sentenced to 20 months in prison

Parnas was convicted last fall of six counts related to “influence buying” campaign finance schemes. Jurors found him guilty of conspiring with co-conspirators to use money from a Russian backer to fund political contributions they hoped to exchange for political favors for their fledgling cannabis joint venture.

He also pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors in a company called Fraud Guarantee.

Federal prosecutors said Parnas and a co-conspirator “falsely asserted that investor funds would be used only for legitimate Fraud Guarantee business expenses, when in fact the funds were largely withdrawn in cash, transferred to personal accounts and used for various seemingly personal expenses.”

The two investors defrauded a total of more than $2 million, prosecutors said.

Parnas sobbed as he apologized to the victims moments before he was sentenced.

“These are all people who are my friends. They are all people who trusted me and I lied to them,” Parnas told the court.

“Parnas will now serve time in prison for his many crimes. Not content with defrauding investors in his company, Fraud Guarantee, out of more than $2 million, Parnas also defrauded the American public by funneling Russian money into U.S. elections and lying about the source of funding for political contributions,” Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

After his sentencing, Parnas told reporters outside court that he thought the judge’s decision was fair.

“I think the judge was fair considering all the circumstances. Because of my background, I made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “I can admit them now and I can move on.”

Parnas was also ordered to pay restitution of $2,322,500 and three years of probation.

Channel money to support Trump

As part of his scheme, the Ukrainian businessman was also convicted of using money from Igor Fruman – who previously pleaded guilty – and a bogus business to funnel hundreds of thousands of political contributions to committees of the GOP and pro-Donald Trump, and then lying. to the Federal Election Commission.

A $325,000 donation to the America First Action super PAC at issue in the case was first reported in an FEC complaint in 2018.

Parnas’ prison term is far less than the time he could have potentially served. He had faced up to five years in prison for each of five counts, and a sixth count of tampering with FEC records carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Federal prosecutors had recommended between 78 and 97 months.

Parnas and Fruman were arrested in 2019 at a Washington-area airport while boarding a flight to Vienna. The arrest came amid House Democrats’ investigation — and possible impeachment trial — of then-President Trump and thrust two unknown Florida-based businessmen onto the world stage with fragile history.

Parnas ultimately did not testify, but he appeared to be seriously considering the move in his own defense. Prosecutors hoped to question Parnas about his quid pro quo offers to Ukrainian politicians at Giuliani’s request.

This story has been updated with additional details and background information.

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