World News

Giuliani associates Parnas, Fruman face Oct. 5 trial, before U.S. election

By Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge set an Oct. 5 trial date for Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, setting the stage for more information to emerge about their alleged campaign finance violations before November’s presidential election.

The Ukraine-born Parnas and Belarus-born Fruman were charged last October over their alleged use of a shell company to make an illegal $325,000 donation to a committee supporting the Republican president’s re-election.

Federal prosecutors have also been examining payments to Giuliani as part of an active criminal investigation, according to a grand jury subpoena seen by Reuters.

Giuliani has not been criminally charged and has denied wrongdoing.

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan set the trial date after government and defense lawyers said it offered enough time to sort through the evidence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos said prosecutors were still evaluating whether to file a new, so-called superseding indictment.

A trial may last two to three weeks.

After the hearing, Parnas, who has broken with Giuliani and Trump, said his supporters have given him strength to keep fighting against “this powerful enemy.”

“I think the truth will come out and we will all know and see what President Trump, Attorney General (William) Barr, Rudy Giuliani, and their cohorts did with the Ukraine situation,” Parnas said.

Parnas had offered to testify at Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate about efforts to remove Marie Yovanovitch, from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and to gather “dirt” on leading Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 51-49 on Friday against calling witnesses at the impeachment trial, clearing the way for Trump’s likely acquittal.

Since his arrest, Parnas has assumed a high public profile, giving interviews and showing up in Washington on Wednesday to attend the impeachment trial.

Parnas is wearing an ankle bracelet, and was denied entry because electronics are forbidden in the Senate visitors’ gallery.

In January, Parnas provided materials to Democratic lawmakers seeking to oust Trump, including text messages and other correspondence detailing his effort to work with Giuliani to have Ukraine announce a corruption probe into Joe Biden.

Two other defendants, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin, also face charges in the Manhattan case, over a separate alleged scheme to channel donations to U.S. politicians from a Russian businessman to support a proposed marijuana business.

U.S. law forbids politicians from taking foreign donations.

All the defendants have pleaded not guilty.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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