© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lev Parnas, Ukrainian-American businessman and former Giuliani associate is pictured leaving the United States Court following a guilty verdict in his court case in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. October 22, 2021. REUT
By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lev Parnas, a onetime associate of Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, should serve between six and eight years in prison for violating U.S. campaign finance laws during the 2018 elections, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Parnas, 50, was convicted in October of seeking funds from Russian businessman Andrey Muraviev to donate to candidates Parnas believed could help secure licenses to operate cannabis businesses. U.S. law bars foreign individuals from contributing to campaigns.
The Manhattan federal court jury also found that Parnas had concealed that he and former associate Igor Fruman were the true source of a donation to a group supporting Trump.
In a sentencing memorandum filed in the federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors said Parnas, a Ukraine-born American businessman, lacked “true remorse.”
“Parnas has – for years – lied and swindled and corrupted for his own benefit,” prosecutors wrote. “Parnas put himself above this country, his investors, and the public.”
U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken, who presided over the trial, will sentence Parnas on June 29.
Parnas and Belarus-born U.S. citizen Furman are known for helping Giuliani investigate Democrat Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign. The U.S. House of Representatives in 2019 impeached Trump for abusing his powers to investigate political rivals, but Trump was later acquitted by the Senate.
Earlier on Wednesday, Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, urged Oetken not to send Parnas to prison, suggesting his sentence instead include community service and counseling.
Bondy said Parnas’s crimes were serious, but his post-arrest cooperation with the House impeachment investigation into Trump should be seen as a countervailing factor.
Both Fruman, who pleaded guilty, and Andrey Kukushkin, a Muraviev associate who was convicted on some counts alongside Parnas, received one-year sentences.
Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, has not been accused of wrongdoing.