rudy-giuliani-associate-igor-fruman-likely-to-plead-guilty-wednesday

A former associate of Rudy Giuliani is expected to plead guilty to federal campaign finance charges, court documents show.

The man, Igor Fruman, a Ukrainian-born businessman, pleaded not guilty to the charges brought by New York federal prosecutors in October 2019. But the case’s court docket says a “change of plea” hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

An attorney for Fruman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

Fruman and his business partner, Lev Parnas, were carrying one-way tickets to Vienna when they were arrested at Dulles International Airport outside Washington two years ago.

An indictment unsealed the next day accused the pair of making illegal straw donations, including $325,000 to a pro-Trump political action committee. Federal prosecutors accused the two men and a third, Andrey Kukushin, of participating in a scheme that involved making political donations funded by an unidentified foreign national who was nervous about “his Russian roots and current political paranoia about it,” according to the indictment.

The purpose of the donations, which are alleged to have been made in 2018, was to help gain access to recreational marijuana licenses so they could form a marijuana business in Nevada, the indictment said. The venture never came to fruition, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors say the two also engaged in a scheme to force the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in the original indictment but not in the superseding indictment filed last September.

NBC News has reported that Fruman and his business partner were helping Giuliani hunt for dirt on Donald Trump’s political opponents in Ukraine, even as they were also pitching potential partners on a business deal with Ukraine’s gas company.

In late April, federal agents executed search warrants at Giuliani’s New York City apartment and office as part of an investigation into whether he was involved in any efforts to oust the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, after he advocated for her removal in 2019.

A fourth defendant charged with Fruman and Parnas, David Correia, pleaded guilty in October to defrauding investors of millions of dollars and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

From left, Donald Trump Jr., Tommy Hicks Jr., Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.The Campaign Legal Center via AP

Correia and Parnas were hit with additional charges last September alleging that they duped investors into handing over more than $2 million from 2012 to 2019 for a venture they said would provide fraud protection services, called “Fraud Guarantee.” They instead distributed the money to their personal accounts, according to the indictment, spending $30,000 on luxury car leases and an unspecified amount on their rents and other personal expenses.

Correia, who was charged with five fraud-related charges, pleaded guilty to two of them in federal court in New York as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Judge Paul Oetken said there is no cooperation agreement.

An attorney for Parnas did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The court docket does not say whether Fruman’s expected plea includes a cooperation agreement.

Tom Winter

Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

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