BY: KATHERINE FAULDERS, AARON KATERSKY, and LEE FERRAN, ABC News
(MILWAUKEE) — Federal prosecutors in New York filed new charges Thursday against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two former associates of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, related to an alleged plot to solicit foreign money for use in the 2018 midterm elections.
The superseding indictment also adds a wire fraud conspiracy charge against Parnas and another defendant, David Correia. The new indictment said Parnas and Correia tried to “defraud multiple victims by inducing them to invest in their company, Fraud Guarantee, based on materially false and misleading representations.”
New charges had been expected, after federal prosecutors said late last year they were likely to add charges to the campaign finance case.
“The FBI and the American public expect that it will be our fellow citizens whose voices determine the outcome of our Nation’s elections, not deliberately corrupt behavior, or foreign influence disguised as legitimate activity,” Bill Sweeney, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said Thursday. “The FBI is determined to disrupt this type of behavior, and our investigation is ongoing.”
Parnas and Fruman were indicted by the Southern District of New York in October 2019 on charges including conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud, false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records as part of an alleged scheme to circumvent federal campaign finance laws against straw donations and foreign contributions ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
Both men, who have each pleaded not guilty, were arrested at Dulles International airport as they were about to leave the country in October, 2019. Each carried several phones, tablets and laptops which were seized on the spot, prosecutors have said. The government has been extracting information from all of them. Their trial is set for February. Correia has also pleaded not guilty.
The criminal charges against Parnas and Fruman touched off an investigation of Giuliani’s business dealings. The former mayor of New York City has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
According to the original indictment, Parnas had been working with Giuliani in the effort to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and to oust then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and career foreign service officer Marie Yovanovitch, whose removal in April 2019 figured prominently in the impeachment hearings against Trump.
The duo had allegedly helped arrange meetings between Giuliani and former and current Ukrainian officials.
Yovanovitch later said that the decision to recall her was based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives” that she was disloyal to Trump.
Parnas cooperated with House impeachment investigators.
Giuliani has acknowledged receiving $500,000 in payments for work he did for a company owned by Parnas and Fruman, telling ABC News at the time that he was retained by Parnas’ business, Fraud Guarantee, to do consulting work. Giuliani insisted any money he took came from domestic, not foreign, sources.
Prosecutors also allege that Parnas and Fruman enlisted help from former Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions to have Yovanovitch recalled as ambassador.
Sessions, who was not charged, told ABC News in October 2019 he was cooperating with the federal probe of Parnas and Fruman.
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