Tuesday, October 12, 2021 | 9:17 a.m.
NEW YORK – Jury selection began Tuesday for Lev Parnas’ trial, a former partner of Rudy Giuliani who is accused along with a co-accused of making illegal contributions to the campaign.
U.S. prosecutors said Parnas, a Florida businessman, had favored influential Republicans with significant campaign contributions, including a 2018 donation of $ 325,000 to a super PAC supporting President Donald Trump.
An indictment said some of these donations were inappropriately channeled through a company co-owned by Parnas in a way that concealed the origin of the money and escaped personal donation limits.
Parnas first gained public attention in 2019 as he aided Giuliani in his efforts to get the Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden. Giuliani is not charged in this case and prosecutors have not alleged that he knew anything about the illegal campaign contributions.
Parnas and a co-defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, are also accused of organizing donations on behalf of Russian financier Andrey Muraviev as part of an effort to expand his legal marijuana businesses in the United States. Prosecutors said Muraviev had invested $ 1 million for the company.
U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken presented the case on Tuesday to 35 potential jurors spaced apart from each other in a New York City courtroom due to coronavirus concerns.
He described each of the six counts and said the jury was selected for a trial which is expected to last two weeks after the opening of pleadings likely to take place on Wednesday.
The judge said he wanted jurors who could decide the case “fairly and impartially” based solely on the evidence.
Parnas’ lawyer Joseph Bondy argued that he had no intention of making illegal donations on Muraviev’s behalf and that the million dollars was a personal loan that went to another man who already pleaded guilty in the case, Igor Fruman.
Kukushkin’s attorney, Gerald Lefcourt, said his client, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur with long-standing ties to legal marijuana companies in California, had been “duped” by Parnas and Fruman and had failed. also no idea they were doing anything illegal.