Breaking the news of a major life event in federal court, an attorney for Lev Parnas asked a judge for a trial delay because his client’s wife is expecting to give birth to a child in November.
“I’ll announce that today,” Parnas’s lawyer Joseph Bondy revealed during a telephone conference on Thursday.
Bondy made the disclosure in the hopes that U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken would postpone a trial currently scheduled for Oct. 4, but the news did not move prosecutors or the presiding judge.
As U.S. courts reopen following pandemic-related lockdowns, Judge Oetken noted that a flood of trials need to be scheduled. Lawyers for Parnas and his co-defendants Igor Fruman and Andrey Kukushkin also sought a trial reprieve in light of the upcoming Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in September.
All three men have been released on bond pending trial, and the court has been prioritizing the schedules of incarcerated defendants.
Obliquely asking whether trial for any of the men might be averted altogether, Judge Oetken asked whether the government have reached any “disposition” as to any of the remaining three.
David Correia, a business associate of Parnas in an enterprise Fraud Guarantee, pleaded guilty two federal charges in late October.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos had no news of any other plea deals, telling Oetken he has “nothing to share at this point.”
The U.S. government’s recent raid of Rudy Giuliani and Victoria Toensing, and the ensuing discovery battle, is also unlikely to intrude upon Parnas’s upcoming trial. Parnas had hoped that the information that the government took from the two Donald Trump-tied lawyers would help him establish his claims of selective prosecution.
Judge Oetken recently rejected Parnas’s selective prosecution claims and the request for more discovery from the Giuliani and Toensing trove, noting that the evidence the FBI obtained from those lawyers are currently being inspected by a court-appointed special master.
The judge call claims that Parnas’s prosecution was politically motivated by the Trump White House “implausible.”
“If there is such a document, I will be shocked,” Judge Oetken added.
Parnas himself, after all, used to be a Trump supporter, the judge noted.
That was before Parnas dramatically cooperated with the House Intelligence Committee before Trump’s first impeachment, giving lawmakers a large trove of documents, emails, messages, photographs and videos about Giuliani, the former president, and other matters relevant to scandal in Ukraine. House Democrats cited those materials more than 100 times in their impeachment report.
That is what Bondy maintains Trump’s Department of Justice sought to avoid with his client’s arrest, an argument that Judge Oetken previously rejected.
Persisting, Bondy urged the judge to order a “simple representation from the government” that if any such document exists, prosecutors must disclose it to chambers.
Agreeing, Oetken ordered the government to send any such file to his chambers for a private in camera review, if they find one.
Parnas is awaiting trial on campaign-finance violations for what prosecutors call illegal donations, including to the Trump super-PAC America First Action, and allegedly cheating investors in the company Fraud Guarantee, which paid Giuliani $500,000 for his work.
Giuliani has not been charged with wrongdoing, though the raid indicates that prosecutors persuaded a judge that there was probable cause to suspect his devices could contain evidence of a crime.
(Timothy A. Clary for AFP via Getty Images)
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