Who is Igor Fruman? Rudy Giuliani's associate pleads guilty in campaign finance case
Fruman pleaded guilty to a single count of solicitation of a contribution by a foreign national
A Florida businessman who gained notoriety for helping Rudy Giuliani seek damaging information on Joe Biden in Ukraine pleaded guilty Friday, September 10 to a charge alleging he facilitated illegal foreign campaign contributions to build a cannabis business in the US.
Igor Fruman, 56, entered the plea in federal court in Manhattan after reaching a deal with prosecutors. Fruman's plea agreement does not require him to cooperate in other cases, US District Judge J Paul Oetken said. Initially charged in a wide-ranging indictment, Fruman pleaded guilty to a single count of solicitation of a contribution by a foreign national. The plea resolves the case against him. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a punishment of 37 to 46 months in prison, though Fruman could get up to five years, the judge said. Sentencing is scheduled for January 21, 2021.
The plea leaves Lev Parnas, another Soviet-born Florida businessman and Giuliani associate and Ukraine-born investor Andrey Kukushkin to face trial next month. A fourth person, David Correia, was sentenced in February 2021 to a year in prison for fraud involving a business he ran that brought Giuliani on as a consultant. "Mr. Fruman is not cooperating with the government and has determined that this is the fairest and best way to put the past two years of his life behind him," Fruman’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, stated in a written statement after the plea hearing. "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."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos said that Fruman sent texts to the foreign national and that person’s agent soliciting $1 million in political contributions and that the foreign national wired two $500,000 installments for that purpose. In court, Fruman said the donation scheme was part of an effort to boost support for a marijuana distribution business that he and others were starting in states where the drug was being legalized. While prosecutors have kept the identity of the donor secret, a lawyer for one of the defendants revealed him during one court hearing to be Russian businessman Andrei Muraviev.
Records reveal that Muraviev was an investor in a marijuana company with Kukushkin in California. Some of the donations made during the campaign to win support for the marijuana business went into the campaign coffers of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican whose name has been floated as a potential presidential candidate. Giuliani, 77, has said that he was not aware of illegal campaign contributions but has acknowledged working extensively with Fruman and Parnas as he sought communications with Ukrainian figures.
Fruman was also charged with but did not plead guilty for arranging hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit donations to Republicans and political action committees while trying to get the top authorities interested in investigating Biden’s son in Ukraine during the Democrat's successful run for president. Fruman apologized in court. He said he was not aware of laws prohibiting foreign campaign contributions at the time he engaged in the donation scheme.