NEW YORK (AP) — An associate of Rudy Giuliani who was convicted of campaign finance crimes at trial and later pleaded guilty to a separate fraud charge is asking that he be spared from prison at his sentencing next week, but prosecutors on Wednesday recommended that he be ordered to spend over six years in prison.
Lawyers for Lev Parnas made the request to a Manhattan federal judge in papers that were filed publicly Wednesday. The papers were dated June 15 but were kept sealed for a week while redactions were agreed to.
Prosecutors filed their own sentencing arguments Wednesday, saying Parnas should serve at least 6 1/2 years in prison for “pumping foreign money" into U.S. elections, making straw donations with other peoples' money, lying to the Federal Election Commission and defrauding investors of over $2 million to fund his lavish lifestyle.
For years, prosecutors argued, Parnas has “lied and swindled and corrupted for his own benefit." They said he had “put himself above this country, his investors and the public."
Parnas, 50, faces sentencing June 29 after he was convicted in October at a Manhattan trial of six charges alleging he made illegal donations in 2018 to jump-start a new energy company and used the wealth of a Russian financier to donate to politicians who might aid the launch of a legal recreational-marijuana business.
In March, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud, saying that between 2012 and 2019 he conspired with another person to give investors false information about a Florida-based business, Fraud Guarantee.
Fraud Guarantee was promoted as a company that could protect investors against fraud.
In their presentencing submission, lawyers for the Soviet-born businessman argued that their client deserves leniency in part because he cooperated with Congress, calling it “timely and material."
Prosecutors, though, said information Parnas provided Congress was in response to a subpoena and “falls far short” of the extraordinary conduct and cooperation that can earn individuals leniency at sentencing.
Defense lawyers said his efforts to cooperate with federal prosecutors were not successful because they used information he offered in a bid for a plea deal mainly to “thwart his potential trial testimony, rather than to consider his attempt to provide substantial assistance in good faith."
But prosecutors countered that the information Parnas offered them “was not fully credible and in material respects was plainly contradicted by the evidence." Thus, they said, they had “serious concerns about Parnas's credibility and candor."
Defense lawyers recommended a sentence of time served — roughly 12 days.
Parnas several years ago worked with Giuliani to try to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of President Joe Biden, who was a candidate at the time. Giuliani has said he knew nothing about the crimes of Parnas and others.
Giuliani — a former New York City mayor who served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer during part of his presidency — has not been criminally charged, though federal authorities have acknowledged that he is being investigated to determine whether he violated a federal law that governs lobbying on behalf of foreign countries or entities.
Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press