Former Ukrainian fixer Giuliani gets 20 months in prison

NEW YORK (AP) — Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who was a figure in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, was sentenced Wednesday to one year and eight months in prison for fraud and fundraising crimes campaign by a judge who said fraud had become “a way of life” for Parnas.

Parnas, 50, had asked for clemency on the grounds that he had cooperated with Congress’s investigation of Trump and his efforts to get Ukrainian leaders to investigate President Joe Biden’s son.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken did not credit Parnas for the assistance, which only came after the Soviet-born businessman faced criminal charges. But the judge still imposed a lighter sentence than the six years required by prosecutors.

The judge also ordered Parnas to pay $2.3 million in restitution.

Parnas’ various schemes to obtain money that prosecutors say fueled a lavish lifestyle led Oetken to say that for Parnas, fraud “was essentially a way of life, a way of doing business. “.

Addressing the court before the sentencing was announced, Parnas sobbed and apologized to those who had lost money investing in his businesses.

“Much of what you have heard is true, your honor. I haven’t been a good person all my life. I made mistakes. And I admit it,” Parnas said. “I want to apologize to all the victims I’ve hurt. They’re all people who are my friends, all people who trusted me, and I lied to them to further my personal agenda.

The criminal case against Parnas was not directly related to his work as a fixer for Giuliani, as the former New York mayor pressured Ukrainian officials to launch an investigation into Biden’s son, Hunter.

Instead, he focused on the donations Parnas had illegally made to a number of American politicians using the wealth of a wealthy Russian to start a legal recreational marijuana business.

In March, Parnas also pleaded guilty to a wire fraud conspiracy, admitting that he and a partner gave investors false information about a Florida-based company, Fraud Guarantee, which promised to protect people from fraud.

This new company hired Giuliani as a consultant at a time when some Ukrainian figures were trying to curry favor with the Trump administration, agreeing to pay him $500,000.

Charles Gucciardo, a Long Island attorney who provided the money to pay Giuliani, told the judge during the sentencing hearing that he hoped the former Manhattan federal prosecutor would return the money because Fraud Guarantee turned out to be a fraud.

“I bet he’s going to give me that money back,” he said, adding that he didn’t blame Giuliani, who hasn’t been charged with any crime in connection with the scheme.

Outside of court, Parnas said he didn’t believe Giuliani would return the money.

“I don’t think he’ll pay it back because as you can see he’s taken the road of no return. He’s just an evil man, unfortunately, and someone I’m very, very sad to see. ‘have met,’ he said.

Giuliani, who was working as Trump’s personal attorney at the time, said he knew nothing of the crimes of Parnas and others.

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani’s interactions with prominent Ukrainians violated a federal law that governs lobbying on behalf of foreign countries or entities.

Parnas and a business associate, Igor Fruman, came to the attention of reporters after arranging large donations to Republican politicians, including a $325,000 donation to a political action committee supporting Trump.

A conviction in October also supported a finding that he made illegal donations in 2018 to promote a new energy company.

During Parnas’ sentencing hearing, the judge also heard from others who had lost money to him in failed business deals.

Dianne Pues said the businessman ‘destroyed my life’ when he failed to repay the money she and her husband lent him to produce a film called ‘Anatomy of an Assassin’.

Parnas promised he would become a new person, occasionally turning around in court to look for victims as he expressed his contrition.

“I would like to apologize to Mr. Gucciardo. Even though I never spent a dollar of his money. I lied to him and used our friendship. Charles, I’m sorry,” he said.