Trump’s lawyer former associate found guilty of illegal campaign financing

October 23, 2021
Lev Parnas walks past criminal court, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, in New York. Parnas, a onetime associate of Rudy Giuliani, is accused along with a co-defendant of making illegal campaign contributions. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Lev Parnas, a former associate of Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was found guilty by a US federal court on Friday of violating campaign financing laws in the 2018 election.

Parnas, a US citizen born in Soviet Ukraine, was arrested at a Washington airport in October 2019, as Trump and associates such as Giuliani were facing scrutiny over attempts to pressure authorities in Kiev to deliver compromising information about Joe Biden.

That investigation eventually led to Trump’s first impeachment proceedings, which ended with him being acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.

On Friday, a federal jury in a Manhattan court found that Parnas and his associate Andrey Kukushkin “conspired to manipulate the United States political system for their own financial gain,” according to a statement from prosecutors.

“In order to gain influence with American politicians and candidates, they illegally funnelled foreign money into the 2018 midterm elections with an eye toward making huge profits in the cannabis business.”

Parnas, who pleaded not guilty, was accused of concealing the real origin of contributions he made to several candidates in US local and federal elections in 2018, including a $325,000 donation to America First Action, a political organization supporting Trump.

Prosecutors also charged that some of the contributions to Republican campaigns in the state of Nevada made by Parnas were actually from a Russian businessman, in violation of a ban on accepting election financing from foreign nationals.

Parnas and Kukushkin remained free Friday awaiting sentencing.