South Florida businessman involved with Rudy Giuliani is jailed
A Florida man who helped Rudy Giulani seek out harmful information against Joe Biden in Ukraine was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and fined $10,000 on Friday in an unrelated campaign finance case.
Igor Frouman was ordered to report to prison on March 14. He pleaded guilty in September to a single charge of soliciting a contribution from a foreign national.
As part of the plea, he admitted to soliciting $1 million from a Russian contractor, Andrei Muraviev, to donate to Republicans in Nevada, Florida and other states as part of an effort to start a recreational marijuana business.
Federal prosecutors in New York had urged the judge J. Paul Oetken sentence Fruman to between three and four years in prison. Defense attorneys had argued that he should not be jailed because he had otherwise led a law-abiding life.
Oetken said the crime of soliciting foreign money for U.S. political campaigns was serious and deserved incarceration.
“This undermines the integrity of elections in our country,” he said as he announced the sentencing. “It undermines democracy.”
Fruman, 55, a father of four, told the judge he had thought about his crime.
“It’s a shame that will live with me forever,” he said through a white mask as several family members watched from wooden benches in an area reserved for spectators.
Assistant United States Attorney Hagan Scotten had asked for a sentence of at least three years behind bars, saying the crime had caused “incalculable harm” as it damaged public confidence in US elections.
“Let all the things they fear happen with politicians,” he said.
Scotten said the crime “seriously undermines the integrity of the electoral system.”
Defence lawyer Todd Blanche said his client had suffered eight days in jail after his arrest and two years and four months of house arrest.
“That’s punishment enough, Your Honor,” he said.
Fruman was charged in the case with Lev Parnas, another Florida businessman who aid Giuliani’s attempt to spoil Biden’s quest for the presidency on the Democratic ticket.
The couple served as a liaison between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials and business moguls as the former New York mayor tried to persuade that country’s prosecutors to investigate Biden’s son, hunter, about his work for an energy company.
U.S. prosecutors did not bring charges in connection with the Ukrainian influence campaign, which was the subject of one of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trials, but instead focused on donations than Fruman and Parnas made statements to American politicians as they sought to strengthen their influence in Republican political circles.
Parnas was sentenced in october of campaign finance crimes and is awaiting sentencing.
The politicians who obtained the illegal donations, including the Governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis and former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, said they did not know the money was secretly coming from a foreign source.
Muraviev has not been charged in the case.
Giuliani, who worked for Trump as a personal attorney, faces an ongoing investigation into whether he was required to register as a foreign government agent when dealing with Ukrainian authorities .
The investigation involves in part a review of whether Giuliani has offered to lobby or influence the Trump administration on behalf of prominent Ukrainians. Giuliani said everything he did in Ukraine was done in Trump’s name and there was no reason for him to register as a foreign agent.
Following searches of Giuliani’s home and business last year, the former federal judge Barbara Jones was appointed by a judge to determine which materials on electronic devices seized in the raid can be turned over to criminal prosecutors.
In a four-page report released Friday, Jones said only a few dozen items of tens of thousands of communications on seven of his electronic devices were blocked from being turned over to prosecutors because they contain privileged communications. She said she was expecting other assignments.
Reprinted with permission from The Associated Press.