Guilty plea expected Thursday in campaign finance case linked to Giuliani ex-associates

FILE PHOTO: U.S. businessman David Correia departs after his arraignment at the United States Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., October 17, 2019.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

The first of four men charged in a campaign finance case implicating former associates of U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani is expected to enter a guilty plea on Thursday.

David Correia, a business partner of onetime Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Such a hearing signals a guilty plea from a defendant who, like Correia, previously pleaded not guilty.

Giuliani has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors charged Correia and Parnas with conspiring to defraud victims into investing more than $2 million into their insurance company Fraud Guarantee, only to then withdraw much of it for family or personal use, including political donations.

Correia was also charged with making false statements to the Federal Election Commission concerning campaign donations, and scheming to channel donations to U.S. politicians from a Russian businessman to support a legal marijuana business.

The Ukraine-born Parnas and another former Giuliani associate, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, were also charged in the marijuana scheme, as was the fourth defendant, Ukraine-born Andrei Kukushkin.

Parnas and Fruman, who had helped Giuliani try to uncover damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, also face charges for allegedly using a shell company to make an illegal $325,000 donation for Trump’s re-election.

Prosecutors have said the scheme also involved efforts to remove the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

All four defendants are U.S. citizens.

The New York Times said Correia is expected to admit to duping Fraud Guarantee investors and making a false statement to the FEC, and is not expected to cooperate with prosecutors investigating Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine.

Giuliani, who is also a former New York City mayor, told Reuters last October he was paid $500,000 for work he did for Fraud Guarantee.

The case is U.S. v. Parnas et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00725.

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