Giuliani associate Lev Parnas lied to feds, should be jailed pending trial, prosecutors say

The foreign-born man, along with Igor Fruman, was charged with making $325,000 in illegal straw donations to a Trump super PAC.
Image: Lev Parnas arrives at federal court for an arraignment hearing in New York on Oct. 23, 2019.
Lev Parnas arrives at federal court for an arraignment hearing in New York on Oct. 23, 2019.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

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By Tom Winter and Dareh Gregorian

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan say that Lev Parnas, the indicted associate and client of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, lied to them about his assets and should be jailed pending trial.

Parnas had told the Justice Department officials responsible for making arrangements for bail after his October arrest that he and his wife had about $450,000 in total assets and income, prosecutors said in a Manhattan federal court filing Wednesday night. In actuality, prosecutors said, Parnas had more than three times that amount — including a $1 million payment from a Russian bank account in September of 2019.

"Parnas's considerable ties abroad, seemingly limitless access to foreign funds, lack of candor with Pretrial Services about his assets, nature and circumstances of the offense, and powerful incentives to flee show that Parnas is a significant flight risk," prosecutors' court filing says.

Parnas was initially held on $1 million bond, but that amount was lowered when Parnas' lawyer said he couldn't pay it. He was eventually released to home confinement with electronic monitoring on $200,000 bond.

Parnas had asked the judge for less restrictive terms of confinement and monitoring pending trial earlier this month, which the government suggested might have been part of a plan to flee the country.

"It would not be difficult for Parnas to leave the United States and live abroad: he also speaks fluent Russian, appears to own no property within the United States aside from two vehicles, and his wife and children could flee with him," the filing notes.

It said the case against him was "overwhelming" at the time he was indicted and "has only become stronger since Parnas’s arrest, as the Government has executed numerous search warrants, interviewed witnesses, and obtained additional documents from third parties."

"Parnas is also aware that he is under investigation for additional crimes, and that it is likely that he will be charged with additional offenses. Given the weight of the evidence, the likelihood of forthcoming charges, and the expected length of the potential sentence, any individual would be highly incentivized to flee; with Parnas’s particularly strong ties abroad, that incentive is even greater," the filing says.

Earlier this month, prosecutors detailed Parnas' extensive connections to Ukraine, his foreign travel — including the use of private jets — and his connections to a billionaire Ukrainian Oligarch named Dmytro Firtash. Firtash is himself awaiting extradition pending his own federal indictment and is a close associate of Paul Manafort.

A judge will now likely schedule a hearing to determine if Parnas should be locked up pending trial.

Parnas and another Giuliani associate, Igor Fruman, were carrying one-way tickets to Vienna when they were arrested at Dulles Airport outside of Washington, D.C., on Oct. 9.

The foreign-born Florida men were charged with making $325,000 in illegal straw donations to a Trump super PAC, as well as giving $15,000 to a second committee among a flurry of political donations intended to help them advance the interests of a Ukrainian government official and a Russian national seeking to break into the cannabis industry.

Prosecutors say Parnas and Fruman engaged in a scheme with a Ukrainian official, identified by NBC News as former chief prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, to oust the then-U.S. ambassador in Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Her ouster — which Giuliani had also advocated for — is one of the subjects of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

Both Parnas and Fruman have pleaded not guilty in the case.