Giuliani associate linked to Trump Ukraine scandal pleads guilty in campaign finance case
A Belarus-born businessman who made headlines for helping Rudy Giuliani seek damaging information on Joe Biden in Ukraine pleaded guilty Friday to a charge alleging he helped facilitate illegal foreign campaign contributions in an effort to build a marijuana business in the U.S.
Mr Fruman, 56, entered the plea at a federal court in Manhattan after reaching a deal reached with prosecutors.
Fruman’s plea agreement does not require him to cooperate in other cases, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken said.
“I deeply regret my actions and apologise to the court,” told the court.
Mr Fruman emerged as a key figure in efforts to collect damaging information about Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential campaign.
He was charged two years ago with making hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Republican politicians and political action committees while trying to build interest in investigating Mr Biden’s son Hunter in Ukraine.
The Florida-based businessman, and co-defendant Lev Parnas, from Ukraine, previously pleaded not guilty to charges including that they concealed a $325,000 donation to support former U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for a punishment of 37 to 46 months in prison, though Mr Fruman could get up to five years, the judge said. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 21.
The plea leaves two men — including Mr Parnas, another Soviet-born Florida businessman and Giuliani associate — to face trial next month.
Mr Fruman also was charged with helping a foreign national make donations to U.S. politicians to encourage support for a fledgling marijuana distribution business in states where the drug is legal.
His lawyer, Todd Blanche, said in a written statement after the plea hearing that his client was not cooperating with the Government.
“Mr. Fruman... has determined that this is the fairest and best way to put the past two years of his life behind him.
“He intends to continue to work hard, as he has his entire life, and raise his family in this country that he loves. We will not have any further public communications.”
Mr Fruman told the court he was not aware of laws prohibiting foreign campaign contributions at the time he engaged in the donation scheme.
He was also charged with, but did not plead guilty to, arranging hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal donations to Republicans and political action committees while trying to get Americans interested in investigating Biden’s son in Ukraine during the Democrat’s successful run for president.
Mr Giuliani, a one-time lawyer for former U.S. President Donald Trump, has not been charged or accused of criminal wrongdoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report