Lev Parnas, the one-time associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in prison for pumping foreign money into U.S. elections.
Parnas, who became briefly known for helping Giuliani investigate Joe Biden's dealings in Ukraine in the lead-up to the 2020 election, was convicted last year of using funds from a wealthy Russian businessman, Andrey Muraviev, to make unlawful donations to American political candidates that Parnas thought could help with his nascent marijuana business.
The defense sought leniency and a sentence of time served, while federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Parnas deserved eight years in prison.
"Parnas will now serve time in prison for his many crimes," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said following sentencing. "Not content to defraud investors in his business, Fraud Guarantee, out of more than $2 million, Parnas also defrauded the American public by pumping Russian money into U.S. elections and lying about the source of funds for political contributions."
Parnas, after the sentencing, said, "I'm doing good. I am relieved that it's finally over. It's been a long time coming." He also thanked the judge in the case.
"I think he did an incredible job," Parnas said. "He's a great judge."
In addition to 20 months' prison time, Parnas was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $2,322,500 in restitution.
"The record before this Court shows that Parnas has -- for years -- lied and swindled and corrupted for his own benefit," prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "Parnas put himself above this country, his investors, and the public."
Parnas also made straw donations to a number of federal candidates, joint fundraising committees, and independent expenditure committees that were made in Parnas' name to conceal the fact that the donations were funded by others, prosecutors said.
Parnas began attending a number of political fundraising events and making high-dollar contributions in order to ingratiate himself within political circles, they said.
"The evidence at trial and before the Court overwhelmingly establishes that Parnas engaged in a veritable crime spree for seven years," said prosecutors.
The defense conceded that Parnas' offenses were serious but said he deserved no additional prison time.
"Mr. Parnas is remorseful for his conduct and intends to repay the victims of his offenses," defense attorney Joseph Bondy wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "His family circumstances are different that those of his codefendants, as Mr. Parnas is a father to three children under the age of ten, two teenagers, and an adult son, who rely upon him for emotional support and guidance on a daily basis."
Bondy said the Soviet-born Parnas has lived a law-abiding life for nearly three years.
"Mr. Parnas has undertaken to work as a DoorDash delivery person, attend Gamblers Anonymous, participate in marital and faith counseling, and engage in humanitarian aid and relief efforts in Ukraine," Bondy said.