Politics

Co-defendants of Rudy Giuliani's associates head to court in political donation case

Key Points
  • Two businessmen who allegedly worked with associates of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to make illegal political donations are set to be arraigned in federal court.
  • David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin are accused in the indictment of conspiring to make donations to U.S. candidates — secretly funded by an unnamed Russian national — in order to benefit a recreational marijuana business venture.
  • Two other men in the federal indictment, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested last week at a D.C. airport with one-way tickets out of the country.
Businessman David Correia exits the United States Courthouse in New York City, October 16, 2019.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Two businessmen who allegedly worked with associates of President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani to make illegal political donations are set to be arraigned Thursday in federal court in New York.

David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin are accused of conspiring to make donations to U.S. candidates — secretly funded by an unnamed Russian national — in order to benefit a recreational marijuana business venture.

They were indicted on a conspiracy charge. Both men are U.S. citizens. Kukushkin was born in Ukraine, and Correia was born in the United States.

Click here to read the indictment.

Correia, who had been traveling in the Middle East when the case was revealed last week, was arrested Wednesday after flying to New York's John F. Kennedy airport to turn himself in, NBC News reported.

He was released from custody that night on a $250,000 bond after appearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Kukushkin was arrested last week, on the same day that two other men in the federal indictment, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested at a Washington-area airport with one-way tickets out of the country.

Parnas and Fruman, both U.S. citizens born in the former Soviet Union, are set to be arraigned in New York next Wednesday.

Ukrainian-born U.S. businessman Andrey Kukushkin, one of four people indicted in New York on charges of violating campaign finance law, is seen in a courtroom sketch as he appears in San Francisco Federal Court in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 11, 2019
Vicki Behringer | Reuters

Parnas and Fruman face other charges in the indictment, which alleges they created a shell company and then used it to donate to political committees, including a pro-Trump super PAC, while concealing that they were the ones making the donations.

They are also accused of being involved in an illegal scheme to buy potential influence with politicians and governments by funneling foreign money to candidates and their campaigns.

House Democratic leaders have issued subpoenas to Parnas and Fruman as part of an impeachment inquiry into Trump based in part on a whistleblower complaint that called Giuliani a "central figure" in an attempt to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Parnas and Fruman were ordered by the leaders of three House committees to provide documents and appear to testify as part of the impeachment probe into Trump.

Giuliani previously said he had worked with the two men as part of his efforts in Ukraine to spur an investigation into the Bidens, NBC reported.

In September 2018, all of the four businessmen who are criminally charged in the case met with the unnamed Russian national in Las Vegas to form a recreational marijuana business, which required access to certain state licenses, according to the indictment.

While there, the court document says, Parnas, Fruman and Kukushkin attended a Nevada state political candidate's fundraiser.

The men took steps to hide the foreign national's involvement in the business venture due to what Kukushkin allegedly called "his Russian roots and current political paranoia about it," the indictment says.

Correia allegedly drafted a plan to make $1 million to $2 million in political donations in pursuit of the licenses. The Russian national last fall arranged to make two overseas wire transfers of $500,000 to Fruman's corporate bank account, investigators said. The men then allegedly used some of those funds to make political donations.

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