Pair Linked to Giuliani Cronies Deny Campaign-Finance Charges

MANHATTAN (CN) – Two of the men accused of conspiring with Rudy Giuliani’s associates to funnel Russian money into U.S. elections pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges.

The arraignment of Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born resident of California, and David Correia, of South Florida, falls one day after Correia’s surrender to U.S. authorities, returning from a trip to the Middle East.

Prosecutors describe the men in court papers as business partners of Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas — born in Ukraine and Belarus, respectively — who are charged with using straw donors to launder foreign money into U.S. elections through limited liability companies.

Fruman has been released on bail, and Parnas remains in custody, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos said today in court.

“I think it’s fair to characterize the investigation as continuing,” Roos told U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken, amid reports that Parnas and Fruman’s associate Giuliani is under federal investigation.

In addition to once serving as the mayor of New York City mayor, Giuliani was a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, the same office by which he is now reportedly being investigated. Giuliani resigned last year from the private law firm Greenberg Traurig to serve full-time as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.

Prosecutors allege that Fruman and Parnas used their shell company, Global Energy Producers, as a conduit for foreign money into elections. They made a $325,000 donation to one Trump-allied super-PAC America First Action and another $15,000 payment to another, unidentified committee in 2018.

America First Action reportedly directed more than $3 million that year to then-Representative Pete Sessions. A Texas Republican, Sessions lost re-election in November.

Prosecutors say Kukushkin wanted to form a marijuana business in Nevada and used campaign donations to curry favor with politicians who could provide him with a license. The indictment quotes Kukushkin as disguising a foreign national’s involvement with that company and its donations because of “his Russian roots and current political paranoia about it.”

Kukushkin wore dark sunglasses at his arraignment today. His attorney Gerald Lefcourt declined to comment while walking from the courthouse to another building to sign his $1 million bail package.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stewart Aaron released Correia on a $250,000 personal-recognizance bond Wednesday.

Correia is represented by attorneys Jeff Marcus and Bill Harrington.

Calling the evidence in the case “fairly voluminous,” prosecutor Roos disclosed that the case involved 10 search warrant applications, more than 10 email accounts and financial records involving the defendants and third parties.

There will be a discovery hearing on Dec. 2.

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