Businessman was part of attempt to get Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden’s son
A former associate of Trump ally Rudy Giuliani has been convicted in federal court of making illegal campaign finance contributions with the goal of influencing US politics.
All told, Parnas, who insisted on his innocence, was convicted on six counts, part of what officials called an “influence buying” scheme, where he would use a wealthy Russian backer’s money to fund Republican political efforts in a purported effort to receive favourable treatment towards ongoing business projects, like a cannabis company.
The effort also involved setting up a fake company and falsifying campaign finance records sent to the Federal Election Commission, which first flagged the $325,000 Trump gift, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. The other five charges each carry up to a five-year sentence.
“Obviously I’m upset, but at this time I just want to get home to my wife and kids and deal with it,” Parnas said outside the New York courtroom on Friday. “I want to thank (my) lawyers, Joe and Stephanie. They put out an incredible fight, I mean, incredible. We got to reassess what happened in there and figure out what the next steps are.”
His attorneys said they planned to appeal.
Parnas was one of a number of figures involved in Mr Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukrainian officials to announce an investigation of Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential race, a campaign which Parnas discussed openly.
“If they didn’t make the announcement, basically, there would be no relationship … there was no aid that was going to be assisted,” Parnas told CNN’s Anderson Cooper at the time.
Parnas and an associate were arrested in 2019 by the FBI at a Washington-area airport, with tickets bound for Frankfurt.
The businessman cooperated with Democratic House investigations during the first impeachment trial, which centered on how then-president Donald Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine while pushing for investigation into Joe Biden. Mr Trump denied wrongdoing and wasn’t convicted.
Mr Giuliani is under investigation into whether he broke lobbying laws during his interactions with Ukrainian leaders during the pressure campaign, which he denies constituted wrongdoing.