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Jury finds Lev Parnas guilty of campaign finance criminal charges

By Jonna Lorenz
Jury finds Lev Parnas guilty of campaign finance criminal charges
Giuliani Associate Lev Parnas was found guilty Friday of campaign finance criminal charges. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 22 (UPI) -- A jury found Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, guilty Friday of six counts of campaign finance criminal charges.

Parnas was charged with campaign schemes in which he used money from a Russian backer to fund political donations to win support for a recreational marijuana business.

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He also was convicted of lying to the Federal Election Commission about funneling political contributions from Igor Fruman and a fake company to pro-Donald Trump committees, including a $325,000 contribution to the America First Action Super PAC.

Co-defendant Andrey Kukushkin was found guilty of two counts related to the use of Russian money in political campaigns.

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The jury deliberated for six hours after the two-week trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Parnas, a Florida businessman who was born in the Ukraine, faces up to five years in prison for each of five counts and a maximum of 20 years for a sixth count of falsifying records to the FEC.

Parnas and Fruman, who pleaded guilty last month to one count of soliciting foreign campaign contributions, were arrested in October 2019 at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., before boarding a flight.

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Parnas also is connected to events that led to former President Donald Trump's first impeachment. He provided information to House investigators about his involvement in an effort by Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney at the time, to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden.

Prosecutors said Parnas gained access to elected officials and candidates through illegal fundraising efforts and showed photos of Parnas with Trump and Giuliani.

Prosecutor Hagan Cordell Scotten described the campaign scheme using contributions tied to Russian donor Andrey Muraviev during closing arguments Thursday.

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"The purpose behind this conspiracy was influence buying," Scotten said. "The voters would never know whose money was pouring into our elections."

The defense argued that Parnas didn't understand campaign finance rules, was "in well over his head" and hadn't willfully broken any laws.

Parnas is to face a second trial for fraud charges related to another company, Fraud Guarantee.

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