MANHATTAN (CN) – An associate of Rudy Giuliani accused of funneling Russian money into U.S. elections can remain out on bail, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, finding that financial misrepresentations were not serious enough to cost him his pretrial freedom.
Lev Parnas has been free on a $200,000 bond — down from the $1 million property bond initially ordered — since his October arrest alongside fellow Giuliani associate Igor Fruman.
Though the Belarus-born Parnas sought to modify the rules governing his home detention in in the Southern District of Florida, prosecutors told the New York court where they brought charges that Parnas’ bail should instead be revoked.
Contending that Parnas lied about his about his income, assets and liabilities in pretrial affidavits, the government flagged income that the defendant failed to report from a four-month contract with a law firm and as well as a $1 million loan to his wife Svetlana from the lawyer for Ukrainian oligarch Dmtryo Firtash.
Parnas even bragged the money from the loan was his and spent some of the money as if it was his, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah Donaleski said.
The government further accused Parnas of giving the official supervising his release in Florida the wrong idea that his sought-after bail modifications have been granted.
U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken ruled Tuesday that Parnas’ omissions “might have violated the spirit of what should have been provided,” but they were not obvious and direct misstatements.
Declining to revoke Parnas’ bail, the Obama appointee observed that the current conditions are sufficient to ensure Parnas’ appearances in court, despite the serious risk of flight.
Parnas and Ukraine-born Fruman were apprehended with one-way tickets at Dulles International Airport, trying to board the jet bridge on a flight bound for Vienna, Austria.
Oetken noted that Parnas has young children and has so far been compliant with all of his bail conditions. Nothing clearly indicated that Parnas had any duty to disclose the loan to his wife, the judge added.
Joseph Bondy, an attorney for Parnas, has denied that his client knowingly made any false statement. Bondy also says prosecutors neither objected to nor responded with a single question regarding Parnas’ financial statement before filing their request to revoke his bail.
“If they asked, they would have been told,” said Bondy, a Manhattan-based federal criminal defense and cannabis business attorney.
Bondy explained that the $1 million loan to Parnas’ wife was transferred by a Swiss-national lawyer named Ralph Isenegger so that the couple could purchase a house in Boca Raton, Florida.
The real estate has since fallen through, Bondy said.
Bondy also said Parnas has burned his bridges with sympathetic Ukrainian oligarchs by stating his willingness to comply with the subpoena issued by the House Intelligence Committee.
“If he were to go anywhere, it’d be to Washington, D.C., to testify before Congress,” Bondy said.
Insisting that Parnas would not flee to Ukraine, Bondy said his client faces threats of violence from Ihor Kolomoisky, a Cypriot-Ukrainian billionaire.
Giuliani even drew called out Kolomoisky’s apparent intimidation of Parnas and Fruman on Twitter, the lawyer noted.
Though he refused to revoke bail, Judge Oetken turned down the modification sought by Parnas that would have let him leave his Miami home between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily – avoiding airports, train stations and boat docks.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos, who previously landed a three-year sentence for Trump’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen, is the lead prosecutor on the case.