Openings set for Wednesday in trial of Giuliani associate

Oct 12, 2021, 9:04 AM | Updated: 5:17 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A smiling Lev Parnas, a onetime associate of Rudy Giuliani who is accused along with a co-defendant of making illegal campaign contributions, left a Manhattan courthouse after a newly sworn-in jury was told to return Wednesday morning for opening statements.

Twelve jurors and three alternates were picked Tuesday to sit on the trial, leaving attorney Joseph Bondy expressing optimism that the right people were chosen to hear the case against his client, Parnas.

“We think everything is going really well. We’re looking forward to the openings,” Bondy said as he and Parnas walked together.

He called it an “interesting case where we’ve got a neat defense and people are finally going to hear us.”

U.S. prosecutors say Parnas, a Florida businessman, ingratiated himself with influential Republicans through big campaign contributions, including a $325,000 donation in 2018 to a super PAC supporting then-President Donald Trump.

An indictment said some of those donations were improperly funneled through a company that Parnas co-owned in ways that disguised the origin of the money and evaded limits on personal donations.

Parnas initially came to public attention in 2019 as he assisted Giuliani’s effort to get the government of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of then-presidential-candidate Joe Biden. Giuliani is not charged in the case and prosecutors haven’t alleged that he knew anything about illegal campaign contributions.

Parnas and a co-defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, are also accused of arranging donations on behalf of a Russian financier, Andrey Muraviev, as part of an effort to expand his legal marijuana businesses in the United States. Prosecutors said Muraviev put up $1 million dollars for the venture.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken introduced the case Tuesday to prospective jurors spaced apart from one another in a New York courtroom because of coronavirus concerns.

He described each of six counts and said the trial was expected to last two weeks.

The judge said he wanted jurors who could decide the case “fairly and impartially” based solely on the evidence.

Parnas and Kukushkin, along with their lawyers, were each introduced to the pool of prospective jurors. Each stood and pulled a mask down so their faces could be seen.

Bondy has argued that Parnas had no intention of making illegal donations on Muraviev’s behalf and that the $1 million was a personal loan that went to another man who has already pleaded guilty in the case, Igor Fruman.

Kukushkin’s attorney, Gerald Lefcourt, has said his client, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur with longstanding ties to legal marijuana businesses in California, was “duped” by Parnas and Fruman and also had no inkling they were doing anything illegal.

Outside court after the jury was chosen, Bondy said he was careful during jury selection to try to find jurors by concentrating on what they listen to, what they read, people they associate with and their family structures.

“We were really looking as a New Yorker, born and raised, for people who are kind of like us, a community of your peers,” he said, though he noted that the large room where jury selection occurred had obstructions that made it difficult to sometimes see masked prospective jurors.

“I’m like stuck behind a column, right?” he said. “I had no idea who I was looking at.”

Still, he called it a “great selection process.”

And Bondy added: “We just want truth to prevail.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Albuquerque police seek car in killings of 4 Muslim men

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities investigating whether the killings of four Muslim men are connected said Sunday that they need help finding a vehicle believed to be connected to the deaths in New Mexico’s largest the city. Albuquerque police said they released photos of the vehicle suspected of being used in the four homicides, hoping […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Report: Dozens got sick after visiting Kansas splash park

GODDARD, Kan. (AP) — A new federal study said dozens of people got sick after visiting a splash park near Wichita, Kansas, last summer. The study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 21 people contracted Shigella bacteria and six others became sick with the norovirus after visiting the splash park […]
18 hours ago
A sign marks the water line from 2002 near Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Sat...
Associated Press

More human remains discovered as drought dries Lake Mead

More human remains have been found at drought-stricken Lake Mead National Recreation Area east of Las Vegas, authorities said Sunday.
18 hours ago
Associated Press

North Carolina sheriff stocking schools with AR-15 rifles

MARSHALL, N.C. (AP) — When schools in one North Carolina county reopen later this month, new security measures will include stocking AR-15 rifles for school resource officers to use in the event of an active shooter. Spurred by the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead in May, […]
18 hours ago
Republican Kentucky State Representative Savannah Maddox addresses the audience gathered during the...
Associated Press

Kentucky candidates struggle when describing 2020 election

FANCY FARM, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Republicans came to the state’s premier political event this weekend intent on winning elections in November and beyond, but some candidates aspiring to become governor had a hard time coming to terms with Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020. They gave parsed or tortured responses when asked if Democrat Joe […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Miss America 2018 Cara Mund poses for photographers on the 86th Floor Observation Deck of th...
Associated Press

Former Miss America Cara Mund plans to run for Congress

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Cara Mund, a former Miss America who gained attention by criticizing the organization near the end of her reign in 2018, plans to run for Congress in North Dakota as an independent. Mund announced her candidacy Saturday and said she would start gathering the 1,000 signatures she needs to get on […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Openings set for Wednesday in trial of Giuliani associate