Igor Fruman arrives at federal court for an arraignment hearing on October 23, 2019 in New York City.
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NEW YORK – Igor Fruman, a former associate of embattled lawyer Rudy Giuliani, agreed to plead guilty Friday in a New York federal court, nearly two years after being charged with crimes which included making illegal donations to a pro-Trump political action campaign.
Fruman and his business partner Lev Parnas, a co-defendant in the same case, had worked with Giuliani in an effort to dig up damaging information about President Joe Biden in Ukraine when that Democrat had emerged as a leading challenger to then-President Donald Trump.
The change-of-plea hearing in Manhattan federal court comes as Giuliani, who has acted as Trump’s personal attorney, himself faces an ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Giuliani, who denies any wrongdoing, served two terms as mayor of New York after heading that same prosecutors’ office for years.
The Ukraine-born Fruman was originally charged with 10 crimes.
But on Friday, he agreed in court to plead guilty only to a single count related to soliciting U.S. campaign contributions from a foreign national.
Protest against Donald Trump by Rise and Resist outside the U.S. District Court in New York, September 10. 2021.
Kevin Breuninger | CNBC
Fruman’s expected plea follows an agreement to admit guilt, but he is not believed to have agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in any ongoing investigation.
Parnas and a third defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, who have both pleaded not guilty, are scheduled to go on trial in the same courthouse on Oct. 12 for charges related to allegedly using straw campaign donors to obscure the source of donated money, and soliciting campaign contributions from foreigners.
A fourth defendant, David Correia, pleaded guilty last October to misleading investors in a company he had started with Parnas, a firm called Fraud Guarantee.
Both men were accused of using more than $2 million in investor money on personal expenses, instead of the business.
Giuliani received hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from Fraud Guarantee.
At his guilty plea, Correia admitting lying to federal election officials about the source of a $325,000 donation to the pro-Trump PAC. Instead of coming from a natural gas firm, as Correia claimed, the money actually had come from a mortgage granted Fruman.
Correia, who likewise had no cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors, in February was sentenced to one year in prison.
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