Two associates of Giuliani have been charged with funneling foreign money to U.S. political campaigns, and President Trump says he doesn’t know them. USA TODAY
NEW YORK — Two defendants in the campaign finance conspiracy case that has ensnared associates of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rud Giuliani, entered not guilty pleas during a brief arraignment Thursday.
David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin entered the pleas in Manhattan federal court during an initial conference on the four-count indictment before U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken.
The pleas came as Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos said government prosecutors have “fairly voluminous evidence” against the two men, along with Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.
The evidence includes electronic records, emails and other material that investigators gathered through approximately 10 search warrants, said Roos.
Declaring that the investigation is continuing, Roos said no decision has been made on whether a superseding indictment with other charges or defendants has been made.
Correia remains free on $250,000 bond he posted Wednesday night after surrendering to federal agents in New York City.
Kukushkin is free on a $1 million bond secured by $100,000 cash and a home in Livermore, California. He was required to surrender passports and be kept under home detention with GPS monitoring, with departures limited to work, medical appointments and meetings with his lawyers.
Neither defendant answered news reporters’ questions as they left the courthouse with their lawyers.
Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, seek potentially damaging information in Ukraine on the son of former vice president and 2020 presidential campaign rival Joe Biden.
Fruman was released from custody in Virginia on Wednesday night after he satisfied the $1 million bond requirement set when he and Parnas were arrested last week, Roos said. The bond was secured with his Sunny Isles, Florida condominium with an estimated value of more than $2 million. Like Kukushkin, Fruman is subject to home detention with GPS monitoring. He was also required to surrender his passports
Parnas remained jailed as of the time of Thursday’s court hearing because he had not met his $1 million bond requirement, said Roos.
Oetken tentatively scheduled a Dec. 2nd status conference with all four defendants.
A federal indictment unsealed last week accuses the four of illegally funneling thousands of dollars in foreign money to U.S. candidates and committees in a conspiracy to buy influence and boost their business ventures.
The funding, some of it disguised through so-called straw donors, was aimed at boosting the campaigns of Trump-supporting candidates and political action committees, advancing the political interests of a Ukrainian government official and bankrolling a planned cannabis retail business.
Some of the funds secretly came from a Russian businessman who is neither a U.S. citizen nor a legal permanent resident, the indictment alleged.
Correia, 44, is the only suspect who was born in the United States, the indictment said. Both Parnas and Kukushkin are 46-year-old U.S. citizens who were born in Ukraine, while Fruman, 53, is a U.S. citizen who was born in Belarus, the indictment said.
The case poses potential political and legal issues for Trump, as well as possible legal problems for Giuliani.
A Parnas-Fruman company, Global Energy Producers, was credited with giving $325,000 to a pro-Trump political action committee in May 2018. However, the indictment said financial records showed that the money came via a circuitous route through a loan transaction linked to Fruman.
During the same month as the contribution, Parnas posted photos on Facebook of him and Fruman with President Trump in the White House and with Donald Trump Jr. in California.
Stressing that he has taken photos with many people, Trump said he did not know Parnas and Fruman. However, he also suggested that they might have been clients of Giuliani. In a tweet, Giuliani referred to the men as his clients.
Parnas and Fruman also are among prospective witnesses House Democrats want to question in their ongoing Trump impeachment inquiry.
U.S. counterintelligence agents have been examining Giuliani’s business dealings with Parnas and Fruman at least since early this year, USA TODAY reported on Tuesday.
Kenneth McCallion, a New York City lawyer who has represented former Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in several U.S. court cases, said the agents contacted him and “were interested in the nature of any business dealings” Giuliani had with Parnas and Fruman.
Giuliani said he was unaware of both a federal investigation involving him and the counterintelligence questioning recounted by McCallion.
Like Parnas, Correia is a co-founder of Fraud Guarantee, a Florida company whose website says the firm was founded “to help reduce the risk of fraud as well as mitigate the damage caused by fraudulent acts.”
The website identifies Correia as the company’s chief operating officer. A brief business biography on the website characterizes him as a “lifelong entrepreneur” who worked in the commercial mortgage and lending industry. He contributed to the restructuring of the investor relations department of a publicly-traded medical staffing company, the website says.
Earlier in his business career, Correia owned, operated and successfully sold restaurants, and then invested in Philadelphia residential real estate, the website says.
A cached version of Correia’s since-deleted Twitter feed shows his apparent support for Giuliani and Trump.
On April 25, he retweeted a tweet by John Solomon, a columnist for The Hill, about Solomon’s report that said the White House under President Barack Obama engaged Ukraine to boost a narrative about suspected Russia “collusion” with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation concluded that Russia ran a “sweeping and systematic” campaign to help Trump win the White House. While the report said Trump campaign aides were eager for any Russian dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, it concluded that neither Trump nor his campaign conspired with Russia to win the election.
According to the indictment, Correia and Kukushkin joined Parnas and Fruman in July 2018 to make plans for a “recreational marijuana business” that would be funded by the Russian foreign national.
Correia drafted a table of prospective political donations. The table allegedly described a multistate licensing strategy that would funnel $1 million to $2 million in contributions to federal and state political committees.
The plan allegedly included a funding schedule of two $500,000 transfers. The foreign national arranged for the funds to be wired from overseas accounts to a U.S. corporate bank account controlled by Fruman and another individual, the indictment charged.
The alleged conspirators allegedly hid the foreign national’s involvement and role in the funding. In Kukushkin’s words, that was necessary because of the man’s “Russian roots and current political paranoia about it,” the indictment said.
Fruman contributed $10,000 of the foreign national’s funds on Nov. 1, 2018, to a Nevada state candidate, the indictment alleged. State campaign finance filings show Fruman contributed to the campaigns of two Republican candidates: Adam Laxalt, former state attorney general, and Wesley Duncan, former state assembly member.
Separately, Kukushkin has been involved with a firm called Legacy Botanical Company and a variety of other ventures, online business records show. The botanical firm was registered in 2016 at a Sacramento address.
Citing California state records and emails, a Mother Jones report last week said a Russian businessman named Andrey Muraviev previously worked with Kukushkin to develop a cannabis enterprise.
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