Reuters is reporting that a former Rudy Giuliani associate who sought damaging information about US President Joe Biden in Ukraine before the 2020 election pleaded guilty on Friday to one criminal count in a campaign finance case.
On Friday, Igor Fruman told U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan federal court that he would enter a guilty plea.
The new plea could put more legal pressure on Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Manhattan U.S. Attorney who later became former U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
Federal prosecutors have been looking into Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, including whether he violated lobbying laws by working as an unregistered foreign agent for Trump.
Giuliani has not been charged and has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Fruman, of Belarus, and co-defendant Lev Parnas, of Ukraine, had pleaded not guilty to concealing an illegal $325,000 donation to Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and lying to the Federal Election Commission.
Dear Rudy Giuliani:
We’re having a great time chatting with your friend Igor Fruman. He has soooo much to say about you!
Maybe come by and chat with us sometime? It’s not too late. For now.
Your friends at the US Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York
— Tristan Snell (@TristanSnell) September 10, 2021
Their case has received additional scrutiny as a result of their collaboration with Giuliani on Ukraine-related issues.
Parnas is scheduled to stand trial next month alongside a co-defendant in the case, Andrey Kukushkin, on charges related to alleged schemes to make donations to U.S. political campaigns from foreigners as well as using so-called “straw donors” who concealed the identity of the sources of the cash.
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The initial indictment in the case also linked the defendants to an effort to depose US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a campaign in which Giuliani was heavily involved and which resulted in then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment. Prosecutors, however, quietly removed that language from subsequent indictments without explanation.
One of the charges in the case accuses Parnas of fraud in connection with seeking investments in the “Fraud Guarantee,” a company he and Fruman founded. In 2018, Giuliani accepted a $500,000 consulting fee for work to help the firm, but he claims he was not aware of any fraudulent solicitations.
BREAKING NEWS: Rudy Giuliani’s business associate Igor Fruman pleads to funneling guilty to funneling foreign money into American political campaigns. He now faces up to five years in federal prison. RT IF YOU THINK THAT HE SHOULD GET THE FULL FIVE YEARS!
— Occupy Democrats (@OccupyDemocrats) September 10, 2021
Giuliani enlisted the help of Fruman and Parnas to dig up dirt on then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Prosecutors also stated that they assisted in the removal of then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump fired in May 2019.
Fruman admitted to using foreign money to make U.S. political donations in order to get a planned cannabis business off the ground in various states in a brief statement read aloud at Friday’s hearing. “Part of the business plan included donations to government officials in those states,” Fruman told Oetken.
Fruman said a business partner drafted a list of potential donations, which he sent to the man he hoped would fund the effort. “I sent this list to the foreign national in an attempt to persuade him to invest,” Fruman explained.
Fruman did not identify the potential investors, but various press reports have identified him as Andrey Muraviev, a wealthy Russian and former cement industry executive who has attempted to back numerous legal marijuana ventures in the United States.
To be convicted under the foreign-donation statute, a defendant must have been aware that his or her actions were illegal. Fruman stated that he was, at least in general.
Giuliani began representing Trump, a fellow Republican, in April 2018 as then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigated Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Trump’s lawyer is no longer Rudy Giuliani. His New York law license was suspended in June after a court found him to have lied by claiming that Trump’s 2020 election was stolen.