Giuliani Ally Fruman to Plead Guilty in Campaign Finance Case
(Bloomberg) -- One of Rudy Giuliani’s key associates in his effort to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Joe Biden during last year’s presidential race will plead guilty in a campaign finance case, according to people familiar with his plans.
Igor Fruman had previously pleaded not guilty to charges that he laundered campaign donations and funneled foreign funds into U.S. elections. Fruman, 55, will now admit to a single count of soliciting a campaign contribution from a foreign donor to a U.S. politician to curry favor for a marijuana business he was trying to launch, according to two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plea isn’t yet public.
Although the charges against Fruman were only tangentially related to his work with Giuliani in Ukraine, he had a front-row seat at the Ukrainian activities of the former New York mayor and personal lawyer of Donald Trump. But Fruman and prosecutors didn’t make any cooperation agreement, the people said.
In a text message, Fruman declined to comment on the plea change. The Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office also declined to comment.
The plea change, first signaled in a court filing Monday, comes in a long grand jury investigation scrutinizing the conduct of Giuliani and his associates. Giuliani had electronic devices seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a search of his home and office in April, and his iCloud and Google documents were subject to secret searches in 2019. He has denied wrongdoing and hasn’t been charged.
Robert Costello, a lawyer for Giuliani, said he didn’t believe Fruman’s new plea would affect his client.
Fruman and Giuliani associate Lev Parnas helped Giuliani orchestrate a smear campaign that led to the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Marie Yovanovitch. Prosecutors have been examining whether Giuliani engineered her removal on behalf of Ukrainian interests in violation of laws against undisclosed foreign lobbying.
Giuliani has denied trying to advance Ukrainian interests in the U.S. and said his activities in the country were all tied to his work as Trump’s lawyer. The then-president’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation of Biden led to his first impeachment.
Fruman was charged in six of the seven counts in the indictment, including conspiracy, making false statements and falsifying records. Prosecutors say he was the source of funds donated in the name of an energy company as he and Parnas sought to “buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns and the candidates’ governments.”
Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, didn’t respond to a request for comment on the plea change. Stephanie Schuman, also a lawyer for Parnas, hung up the phone.
Parnas’s fortunes seemed to improve after a large donation to the political action committee America First put him on the radar of Trump’s inner circle. By May 2018, he was posting pictures on Facebook of himself with the president. Fruman, a Russian-speaking businessman who owned luxury enterprises in Ukraine, also boasted of his White House ties. He once publicly claimed to be a liaison between Trump and Kiev’s Jewish community.
A plea-change hearing was scheduled for Fruman for Wednesday afternoon.
The case is U.S. v. Parnas, 19-cr-725, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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