NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – Lev Parnas, a partner of Rudy Giuliani who was a figure in President Donald Trump’s first prosecution investigation, was sentenced on Wednesday to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes.
Parnas, who helped Giuliani liaise with Ukrainian figures as part of a campaign to dig up dirt on President Joe Biden’s son, sought leniency on the grounds that he had helped the congressional inquiry.
But prosecutors said the Soviet-born businessman’s help was in response to a subpoena and deserved little credit.
Instead, they asked the judge to focus on a jury’s finding that Parnas used the wealth of a wealthy Russian to make illegal donations to politicians that could help launch a legitimate recreational marijuana business.
Prosecutors have demanded that Parnas be sentenced to more than six years.
An October conviction also supported a finding that he made illegal donations in 2018 to start a new energy company.
Parnas pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, admitting that he conspired with another person between 2012 and 2019 to give investors false information about a Florida-based business, Fraud Guarantee.
Fraud Guarantee has been promoted as a company that can protect investors from fraud. Giuliani accepted $ 500,000 from the company to act as a consultant, but was not charged with any offense or charged with any crimes.
At the emotional sentencing hearing, several individuals who lost money by investing in Parnas’ businesses made statements. Mineola, New York, told attorney Charles Gucciardo he sent the $ 500,000 to a Giuliani bank account to support the Fraud Guarantee business.
He said he did not blame Giuliani for his association with a business that apparently never got off the ground, but rather blamed Parnas, saying Parnas “ran out of money and had to keep his relationship with Giuliani alive.” Gucciardo said that instead of working for the Fraud Guarantee Company, Parnas “left to do marijuana work in Las Vegas.”
Dianne Pues said Parnas “destroyed my life.” Pues and her husband were not part of the campaign funding case, but they pursued Parnas in civil court for years after he failed to repay money they lent him to produce a movie called “Anatomy of an Assassin”. .
Then a sobbing Parnas, who shook his head while talking about the victims, cried as he apologized to his victims, sometimes turning around to try to look at them as he spoke.
“I want to apologize to all the victims I have hurt. “They are all people who are my friends, all people who trusted me and I lied to them to advance my personal agenda,” Parnas said.
Then, as he turned to face Gucciardo, Parnas offered a direct apology.
“I would like to thank Mr. Gucciardo apologizes. Even though I never spent a dollar of his money. I lied to him and used our friendship. Charles, I’m sorry, ”he said.
The criminal case against Parnassus was not directly related to his work that acted for Giuliani, as the former mayor of New York tried to get Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter, before he was elected president.
Giuliani, who at the time worked as a personal lawyer for then-President Donald Trump, said he knew nothing about the crimes of Parnas and others.
The former mayor of New York has not been criminally charged, but he is being investigated to determine if he has violated a federal law governing recruitment on behalf of foreign states or entities.
In attending documents, defense attorneys criticized prosecutors for rejecting Parnassus ‘attempts to cooperate in exchange for indulgence in sentencing, saying the government was using Parnassus’ statements only to “thwart its possible trial evidence.”
In a submission of their own, prosecutors said they rejected Parnas as a potential accomplice because his information “was not fully credible and was in material respects clearly contradicted by the evidence.”