Soviet-born Florida businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested on Wednesday night at Dulles Airport in Virginia for alleged campaign finance violations. As you can see in the mugshots, the Rudy Giuliani “clients” who are being represented by former Trump lawyer John Dowd, weren’t exactly loving the booking process at the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office.
They are both charged with four separate counts: two counts of conspiracy, one count of making false statements; and one count of falsification of records:
Parnas and Fruman, the defendants, made additional contributions to federal candidates, joint fundraising committees, and independent expenditure committees that either (i) were intentionally funneled through, and made in the name of, a limited liability corporation to conceal that Parnas and Fruman were the true source of contributions and skirt the federal reporting requirements; or (ii) were reported in Parnas’s name but were funded by Fruman, which allowed Fruman to exceed limits on contributions to candidates or committees to whom he had previously contributed. The defendants further concealed this aspect of the conspiracy by, among other things, making and causing others to make false statements to the [Federal Election Commission].
House Democrats wanted them to appear for a deposition today and tomorrow pursuant to the ongoing impeachment inquiry, but it appears there weren’t any plans of complying with that request or others like it. The two were reportedly arrested before getting on a flight out of the United States. Democrats have responded by issuing a subpoena.
Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman aided Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to gin up investigations in Ukraine into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, among other potentially politically beneficial investigations for Mr. Trump. Mr. Parnas had been scheduled to participate in a deposition with House impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill on Thursday, and Mr. Fruman on Friday. Neither had been expected to show up voluntarily. House Democrats were preparing to issue subpoenas to force them to do so.
Parnas and Fruman, who were born in Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union and now live in Florida, have become political players in recent years. In May 2018, Parnas posted pictures on Facebook of himself and Fruman with Trump in the White House and with the president’s son Donald Jr. in California. That was the same month their company, Global Energy Producers, was credited with giving $325,000 to a campaign committee that supports Trump’s reelection.
In May 2018, Parnas and Fruman made a $325,000 donation to pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, Inc. This donation was the subject of a complaint filed by nonpartisan government watchdog organization Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in July.
According to CLC, Parnas and Fruman failed to disclose “the true source of money at the time of making the contribution to America First Action” and also attributed “the source of the money” to “another person” who was not the source of the money.
Also named in the indictment unsealed Thursday are defendants David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin. They were charged with one count of conspiracy.
As Law&Crime previously reported, Parnas and Fruman are Trump donors who somehow became aware of key U.S. foreign policy plans months in advance. Namely: Fruman, Parnas and oil billionaire Harry Sargeant III reportedly knew the former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was being fired by Trump months before she was actually given the axe by the 45th president.
The trio also reportedly attempted to use this foreknowledge to their economic advantage by dangling the information and an unprecedented promotion–as well as a potential importation deal–before an executive at the Ukraine’s national gas company Naftogaz.
Tomorrow's deposition of Marie Louise Yovanovitch, the ambassador whom Rudy associates (and now defendants) Fruman and Parnas were trying (with illegal donations) to get "congressman 1's" help to get fired, just got a lot more interesting.
— Harry Litman (@harrylitman) October 10, 2019
A lawyer for Sargeant has disputed media reports about his client.
Christopher Kise of Foley & Lardner LLP said that news stories have “unfairly and inaccurately portray[ed] Mr. Sargeant as having involvement in Ukraine business affairs.”
“Mr. Sargeant conducts no business of any kind in the Ukraine and has not visited Ukraine, even as a tourist, in well over a decade. Attending a single, informal dinner in Houston does not place Mr. Sargeant at the center of any Naftogaz or Ukrainian business plan,” Kise said. “In March 2019, while attending the CERAWeek 2019 conference in Houston, Texas, one of the largest energy industry trade events in the world, Mr. Sargeant was asked to attend an informal dinner with Andrew Favorov, Igor Fruman, and Lev Parnas, and to offer his views on the global oil and gas industry.”
The rest of the statement:
Mr. Sargeant never discussed any role or participation in any Ukraine venture, nor any specifics regarding the potential business ventures of the other dinner participants. At the dinner, Mr. Sargeant simply provided broad industry guidance and his expert view on the challenges presented by operating in foreign markets.
Notably absent from this dinner was the media’s alleged “source,” Dale Perry. Indeed, Mr. Sargeant has never even met with or spoken to Mr. Perry. Unfortunately, however, the media has seized on the uncorroborated statements of Mr. Perry, who may well be generating stories to discredit his competitors and advance his own interests in the Ukraine. Whatever his motivation, one thing remains clear, Harry Sargeant has nothing to do with Ukrainian businesses.
Finally, Mr. Sargeant is not a member of Mar-a-Lago and has never met there with Donald Trump since Mr. Trump has been President.
You can read more about the context surrounding the charges here; the filing itself is below.
Giuliani, for his part, doesn’t seem to be all that worried about collateral damage.
when I asked Rudy about prospect of the FBI flipping Parnas and Fruman to get to him, he replied “Good luck.”
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) October 10, 2019
Meanwhile, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow has attempted to distance the president from the situation.
Once again — honestly I've lost count of how many times this has happened — the White House says the president had nothing to do with the conduct that got two of his political allies indicted. https://t.co/lGlZFIj6qW
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) October 10, 2019
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: this story was updated post-publication with a statement from Harry Sargeant’s lawyer.
[Image via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office]