A former associate of Rudy Giuliani who assisted Democrats with their first sham investigation into the actions of former President Donald Trump was sentenced on Wednesday to 20 months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes.
Fraud, said U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken, had become “a way of life” for Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born conman who once claimed to Congress that he was directed by Giuliani to urge Ukraine to investigate the business dealings of Joe and Hunter Biden.
While Oetken imposed a sentence considerably shorter than the six years prosecutors were seeking, the judge did not reward Parnas with the leniency he’d hoped to receive for cooperating with Congress during Trump’s first impeachment probe. In addition to more than a year-and-a-half behind bars, Oetken instead ordered Parnas to cough up $2.3 million in restitution, the Associated Press reports.
According to the judge, Parnas lived a lavish life, funded by a string of schemes, to the point that fraud “was essentially a way of life, a way of doing business.”
Prior to learning his fate, a sobbing Parnas apologized to those he had harmed through his shady business ventures.
“A lot that you heard is true, your honor,” he told Oetken. “I have not been a good person my whole life. I’ve made mistakes. And I admit it.”
“I want to apologize to all the victims that I hurt,” he continued. “These are all people who are my friends, all people who trusted me, and I lied to them to further my personal agenda.”
Giuliani associate says he was directed to arrange Ukraine Biden inquiry, but here’s the rub … https://t.co/SHIz6Bp6Ex
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) November 11, 2019
The conviction and sentencing of Parnas stem from “donations Parnas had illegally made to a number of U.S. politicians using the riches of a wealthy Russian to jump-start a legal recreational-marijuana business,” according to AP.
The sentencing comes on the heels of a guilty plea from Parnas in March in a wire fraud conspiracy. In that case, Parnas was forced to admit that he and his partner “had given investors false information about a Florida-based business, Fraud Guarantee, that promised it could protect people against fraud,” AP explains.
It was that company that offered Giuliani $500,000 as a consultant “at a time when some Ukrainian figures were trying to curry favor with the Trump administration.”
The money to hire Giuliani came from a Long Island attorney named Charles Gucciardo, who, in light of the Fraud Guarantee’s now proven fraudulent status wants the former NYC mayor to return it.
“My bet is he’s going to give me that money back,” Gucciardo, who stressed he doesn’t blame Giuliani for Parnas’s misdeeds, said.
Indeed, Trump’s former attorney has not been charged with any crimes related to the schemes concocted by Parnas and his business associate, Igor Fruman, and Giuliani insists he knew nothing of the crimes Parnas and Fruman perpetrated.
Parnas and Fruman arranged large donations to Republican politicians, “including a $325,000 donation to a political action committee supporting Trump,” AP reports, adding that an “October conviction also supported a finding that he made illegal donations in 2018 to promote a new energy company.”
Said one victim of the cons, Dianne Pues, to the court prior to Oetken’s sentence, Parnas “destroyed my life” when he took a loan from Pues and her husband to finance a movie called “Anatomy of an Assassin” and failed to pay it back.
For his debts, Parnas, who has vowed that he will become a new and better person, was full of contrition.
“I’d like to apologize to Mr. Gucciardo,” he said. “Even though I never spent a dollar of his money, I lied to him and used our friendship. Charles, I am sorry.”
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