Ukraine-born businessman gets one year in prison in U.S. campaign finance case

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NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - A Ukraine-born U.S. businessman was sentenced to one year and one day in prison on Tuesday after being convicted last year of campaign finance violations alongside a former associate of Rudy Giuliani.

The defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, had been found guilty in October on two criminal counts for funneling money from Russian tycoon Andrey Muraviev to U.S. political candidates who could help a cannabis company he was building with Lev Parnas, the Giuliani associate. read more

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of 51 to 63 months, while Kukushkin said he should be spared prison.

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Before being sentenced in federal court in Manhattan, Kukushkin had proposed being allowed to assist with relief efforts in his native Ukraine.

"I can do much more if I keep on helping my family and helping my community rather than be locked up in jail," Kukushkin, wiping away tears, told U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken.

Kukushkin's lawyer Gerald Lefcourt added that his client had recently taken in his fiancee's elderly mother, who fled Ukraine. read more

Oetken agreed that Kukushkin's family would suffer from his imprisonment, but said prison time was needed to deter others from similar crimes.

"Straw donations by foreign nationals corrupt our system," Oetken said.

Prosecutors on Monday unsealed charges over the campaign finance scheme against Muraviev, who they said is at large and believed to be in Russia.

Washington has targeted wealthy Russian businessmen with possible sanctions, asset seizures and criminal charges to pressure the Kremlin to stop its invasion of Ukraine. Russia calls its actions a "special operation." read more

Parnas, also born in Ukraine, was found guilty on all six counts of campaign finance violations he faced during the October trial, and is awaiting sentencing.

Another co-conspirator, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, was in January also sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to a campaign finance violation. read more

Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani, a onetime personal lawyer to Republican former President Donald Trump, investigate Democrat Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, has not been charged with crimes and has denied wrongdoing.

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Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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