One of the former Rudy Giuliani associates who refused to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee during former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment will plead guilty in a case associated with that scandal, a docket entry revealed on Monday.
In October 2019, shortly before the commencement of public impeachment hearings, federal prosecutors charged Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas with illegal campaign contributions in an indictment that revealed the inner workings of a plot to oust ex-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Parnas subsequently cooperated with Democrats in the Committee’s investigation. Fruman did not. Parnas later faced additional charges in connection with the company Fraud Guarantee. Fruman did not.
Parnas signaled his willingness to cooperate with the government during high-profile media interviews, and Fruman kept quiet.
Yet at a sentencing scheduled on Wednesday, Fruman will be the first to plead guilty, according to the case’s docket.
His co-defendant Lev Parnas’s attorney Joseph Bondy and the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment. Fruman’s lawyer Todd Blanche did not respond to an email requesting comment.
The case’s docket does not reveal any information about a plea deal, except to say that Fruman will change his plea in federal court on Wednesday afternoon. He previously pleaded not guilty.
Thinly veiling the recipient as “Congressman-1,” Fruman’s initial indictment accused him of writing then-Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas) two $2,700 checks before the midterm elections. Sessions later met with Fruman and Parnas before writing a letter calling for Yovanovitch’s removal. Though defeated in the midterms, Sessions was voted back into office in late 2020.
Prosecutors described a number of ruses Fruman allegedly used to illicitly funnel campaign money, such as using Parnas’s name to skirt the individual limits and misspelling his own surname as “Furman” to evade the Federal Elections Commission.
“In fact, the contribution — and several other significant contributions made at and around the same time — was made in the name of ‘Igor Furman’ not Igor Fruman, the defendant, in a further effort to conceal the source of the funds and to evade federal reporting requirements,” one footnote of his charges read.
According to a reported tabulation of FEC records, Fruman donated more than $190,000 under the name “Furman.”
In announcing their case in October 2019, then-U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Fruman and Parnas tried to “gain political influence while avoiding disclosure of who was actually making the donations.”
“They sought political influence not only to advance their own financial interests but to advance the political interests of at least one foreign official – a Ukrainian government official who sought the dismissal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine,” Berman wrote in an Oct. 10, 2019, statement. “Protecting the integrity of our elections – and protecting our elections from unlawful foreign influence – are core functions of our campaign finance laws.”
Berman’s successor, now-U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, did not mention the scandal in Ukraine in announcing the superseding indictment last autumn.
(Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
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