The Washington Post

Giuliani associate pleads guilty; others await trial


NEW YORK — A Soviet-born businessma­n who assisted Rudolph W. Giuliani in his Ukrainian political efforts on behalf of President Donald Trump pleaded guilty Friday to violating campaign finance laws, as others charged in the case prepare to stand trial.

Igor Fruman, 56, who was arrested with co-defendant Lev Parnas at Dulles Internatio­nal Airport in 2019, entered a guilty plea to one count of soliciting foreign campaign contributi­ons and is expected to be sentenced Jan. 21 by U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken.

Prosecutor­s previously said there were two wire transfers from a Russian national totaling $1 million — in September and October 2018 — given with the expectatio­n that the money would be donated to politician­s in states where Fruman and his business associates believed they could get retail marijuana licenses.

In federal court in Manhattan, Fruman admitted to knowing he could not make donations to candidates in U.S. elections on behalf of a foreign national. In a statement he drafted with his attorney, Fruman called the straw donor “an experience­d investor in the cannabis space” and said the business plan involved making donations to “government officials” in states where marijuana was legalized.

One of his partners, whom Fruman didn’t name, made a list of Democratic and Republican candidates they should donate to, according to the prepared admission.

“At that time I had little experience in the rules surroundin­g political donations,” Fruman said, reading a statement while masked in the courtroom. “But I generally understood that foreign nationals and individual­s who were not American citizens were not allowed to make political donations in the United States.”

Fruman’s attorney, Todd Blanche, said in a statement after the court appearance that his client “is not cooperatin­g with the government and has determined that this is the fairest and best way to put the past two years of his life behind him.”

Per his agreement with prosecutor­s, Fruman had to plead only to one count out of several charges in the indictment. He faces a maximum of 46 months in prison.

Parnas and another man, Andrey Kukushkin, are slated to go on trial next month on several charges stemming from efforts to influence U.S. elections on behalf of foreign interests through donations.

Parnas and Fruman’s ties to Giuliani played prominentl­y in Trump’s first impeachmen­t proceeding, in which the president was accused of abusing his authority by threatenin­g to withhold $400 million in military aid from Ukraine if officials there did not announce a criminal investigat­ion into candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Giuliani worked with Parnas and Furman to search for intelligen­ce overseas that would incriminat­e Biden in advance of the 2020 election.

Giuliani has not been charged in connection to the alleged scheme but is the subject of an investigat­ion by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, whose office is prosecutin­g the Parnas-fruman case.

The former New York mayor and prosecutor, who once headed the prestigiou­s office that now has him under a microscope, has vehemently maintained his innocence. Investigat­ors are evaluating whether Giuliani violated the Foreign Agents Registrati­on Act in his interactio­ns on behalf of his presidenti­al client.

In April, a search warrant was executed at Giuliani’s home and law offices in Manhattan and FBI agents collected a number of electronic devices.

Oetken has appointed a special master to sort through the contents of the phones and computers for any communicat­ions that may be protected by attorney-client privilege.

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