Ex-Giuliani associate sentenced to 20 months for campaign finance violations, fraud

NEW YORK, June 29 (Reuters) - Lev Parnas, a onetime associate of Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Wednesday for violating U.S. campaign finance laws during the 2018 elections and forwire fraud conspiracy.

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. read more

The jury in federal court in Manhattan 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, a Republican.

Parnas in March pleaded guilty to a separate charge of conning people into investing more than $2 million into an insurance start-up, but withdrawing much of the money for campaign contributions and personal expenses. read more

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken read the sentence on Wednesday.

Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said in a statement following the sentence that Parnas "defrauded the American public by pumping Russian money into U.S. elections and lying about the source of funds for political contributions."

Prosecutors last week said Parnas deserved to serve between six and eight years in prison, arguing the Ukraine-born American businessman "put himself above this country" and lacked true remorse. read more

A lawyer for Parnas had urged Oetken not to send Parnas to prison, arguing he deserved credit for his post-arrest cooperation with the U.S. House of Representatives' investigation leading to Trump's 2019 impeachment.

Parnas and Fruman, a Belarus-born U.S. citizen, are best known for helping Giuliani investigate Democrat Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign. While Trump was impeached for abusing his powers to investigate political rivals, he was later acquitted by the Senate.

Both Fruman, who pleaded guilty, and Andrey Kukushkin, an associate of Russian businessman Muraviev who was convicted on some counts alongside Parnas, received one-year sentences. read more

Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, has not been accused of wrongdoing.

Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Reports on the New York federal courts. Previously worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.