(Bloomberg) — The U.S is “likely” to bring additional charges in a case against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, associates of Rudy Giuliani who are accused of skirting campaign contribution limits as part of a plot to oust the American ambassador to Ukraine, a prosecutor said.
The comment was made Monday at an hour-long court hearing in Manhattan. Speaking in response to a question from U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken about whether the government planned to file additional charges, Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkind said: “Certainly the investigation is ongoing. We think a superseding indictment is likely, but no decision has been made. It’s something we continue to evaluate.”
Parnas and Fruman were charged in October. According to prosecutors, they illegally funneled foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, including a $325,000 contribution to the pro-Trump America First political action committee. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors have said repeatedly their investigation is continuing, and Bloomberg and other news organizations have reported that Giuliani is a subject of interest in the case. Zolkind’s comment came after Gerald Lefcourt, one of the defense lawyers, complained that the heavily redacted documents shared by the government in discovery had left them with little sense of the case. As an example, he held aloft a search warrant affidavit with the pages completely blacked out.
In response, Zolkind said the redacted pages did not relate to the charges that have been filed thus far — an indication that the investigation has spanned well beyond the charges against the two men. The prosecutor didn’t elaborate on what the new accusations would be or whether others would be charged, but he said later that at least one of the defendants, Parnas, is “under investigation for additional crimes.”
Zolkind also opposed a request by Parnas for more lenient home detention conditions, saying he presents a substantial flight risk based on his ties to Ukraine and a “billionaire oligarch in Vienna” currently fighting extradition to the U.S. The reference was likely to Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who lives in Austria and is facing prosecution for overseas bribery in Chicago. The legal team Firtash hired to defend him in that case included Parnas as a translator.
Parnas and Fruman worked with Giuliani on efforts to dig up political ammunition for Trump in Ukraine against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. According to the indictment, their campaign donations played a role in the pressure campaign to remove U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Trump recalled her from her post earlier this year.
Prosecutors have obtained thousands of files of phone, bank and Internet service provider records in response to subpoenas, and seized several cell phones, computers, thumb drives and digital tablets from the defendants and their homes after their arrest. The FBI is still trying to access those devices and evidence gleaned from them has not yet been produced. Zolkind said subpoenas are still being served.
Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Parnas, said his client wants to cooperate with the Congressional investigation into the Ukraine matter but that prosecutors have seized records responsive to a Congressional subpoena.
To contact the reporter on this story: Christian Berthelsen in New York at [email protected]
To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at [email protected], Anthony Lin
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.