New charges for ex-Giuliani associates Parnas and Fruman

Superseding indictment adds charges in alleged election finance fraud scheme.

September 17, 2020, 6:50 PM

A superseding indictment filed Thursday against former associates of President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani appears to draw the first direct connection in the ongoing criminal case to a part of the alleged criminal enterprise and the fees that were paid to Giuliani.

The superseding indictment against Giuliani's two former business partners, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, added a wire fraud conspiracy charge against Parnas and another defendant, David Correia, while also detailing a new alleged scheme regarding how, according to prosecutors, the men illegally induced an investor to give $500,000 to their company, Fraud Guarantee, in 2018.

The detail appears to be a reference to a $500,000 loan given by investor and pro-Trump Republican donor Charles Gucciardo that Parnas allegedly used to pay Giuliani.

Gucciardo's lawyer Randy Zelin told ABC News last year that he invested in Fraud Guarantee the $500,000 because, "he believed that Mr. Giuliani -- the former Mayor of New York City; former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; and, the first name in cybersecurity -- was in front of, behind, and alongside the Company which would catapult the Company into the world of cybersecurity and investor protection."

Giuliani never participated in any advertising for Fraud Guarantee and Giuliani's attorney has previously said he never authorized any of the defendants in the case to make representations about his involvement in the company.

In this Feb. 3, 2020, file photo, businessman Lev Parnas leaves after a hearing at the U.S. Federal Court in New York.
Stephen Yang/Reuters, FILE

At the same time, prosecutors in their indictment Thursday accused Parnas, Correia and Fruman of enticing their victim to make the $500,000 loan based on false representations of how much money Fraud Guarantee was valued at the time.

Zelin did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on the superseding indictment Thursday.

New charges had been expected, after federal prosecutors said late last year they were likely to add charges to the campaign finance case.

“The FBI and the American public expect that it will be our fellow citizens whose voices determine the outcome of our Nation's elections, not deliberately corrupt behavior, or foreign influence disguised as legitimate activity," Bill Sweeney, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office, said Thursday. "The FBI is determined to disrupt this type of behavior, and our investigation is ongoing.”

Parnas and Fruman were indicted by the Southern District of New York in October 2019 on charges including conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud, false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records as part of an alleged scheme to circumvent federal campaign finance laws against straw donations and foreign contributions ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

Russian-born businessman Igor Fruman leaves after his arraignment at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in New York, Oct. 23, 2019.
Jefferson Siegel/Reuters, FILE

Both men, who have each pleaded not guilty, were arrested at Dulles International airport as they were about to leave the country in October, 2019. Each carried several phones, tablets and laptops which were seized on the spot, prosecutors have said. The government has been extracting information from all of them. Their trial is set for February. Correia has also pleaded not guilty.

The criminal charges against Parnas and Fruman touched off an investigation of Giuliani's business dealings. The former mayor of New York City has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

According to the original indictment, Parnas had been working with Giuliani in the effort to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and to oust then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and career foreign service officer Marie Yovanovitch, whose removal in April 2019 figured prominently in the impeachment hearings against Trump.

The duo had allegedly helped arrange meetings between Giuliani and former and current Ukrainian officials.

Yovanovitch later said that the decision to recall her was based on "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives" that she was disloyal to Trump.

Parnas cooperated with House impeachment investigators.

Rudy Giuliani speaks about crime and current conditions in New York City at a news conference at the Women's Republican Club, Sept. 16, 2020, in New York.
Kathy Willens/AP

Giuliani has acknowledged receiving $500,000 in payments for work he did for a company owned by Parnas and Fruman, telling ABC News at the time that he was retained by Parnas' business, Fraud Guarantee, to do consulting work. Giuliani insisted any money he took came from domestic, not foreign, sources.

Prosecutors also allege that Parnas and Fruman enlisted help from former Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions to have Yovanovitch recalled as ambassador.

Sessions, who was not charged, told ABC News in October 2019 he was cooperating with the federal probe of Parnas and Fruman.