A defendant in the federal case against associates of Rudy Giuliani pleaded guilty Thursday to making a false statement to the Federal Election Commission and defrauding investors in a fund.
Former pro golfer and restaurateur David Correia and three other men – Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and Andrei Kukushkin – with ties to Giuliani were charged in October 2019 in an alleged campaign finance scheme that allegedly used straw donors to disguise their donations and that of someone described as a Russian national into US elections.
Correia, who is the only individual to plead guilty to the charges, is not cooperating with authorities as part of his plea. The judge set his sentencing for February 8. Parnas, Fruman and Kukushkin have all pleaded not guilty.
Correia was a longtime business associate of Parnas, who, along with Fruman, had helped Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, in his bid to dig up dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine.
Correia had accompanied Parnas and Fruman, both Soviet-born businessmen, on their trip to Ukraine to help Giuliani, and was there to secure business deals, CNN has reported.
Parnas and Fruman introduced Giuliani to Ukrainian prosecutors, who Giuliani claims provided negative information about the former vice president.
Correia on Thursday pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FEC, which was looking into a complaint about donations by the men.
According to the indictment, Parnas and Fruman made the political donations in the name of a company they set up called Global Energy Producers. Prosecutors allege it was not an operating company but a vehicle to hide that the true source of the money was a mortgage Fruman had taken out on a Florida property. Correia admitted on Thursday that an affidavit he had filed with the FEC was “wrong at the time I did it.”
In September, New York federal prosecutors filed an additional set of charges against Correia and Parnas, alleging they sought to defraud potential investors in their company Fraud Guarantee.
Prosecutors allege Parnas and Correia raised more than $2 million from at least seven investors and spent the majority of the money for personal purposes, including Parnas’ rent and luxury cars. Correia admitted on Thursday that he had given investors “incorrect” information about the startup, which, he said, he knew at the time was wrong.
CNN previously reported that their business was pitched as an insurance policy for companies to protect against fraud. On Thursday prosecutors said Fraud Guarantee had never issued any insurance policies or had any customers.
The judge said Thursday that Correia had agreed to a forfeiture, as part of his guilty plea, of $43,650.
The trial for Parnas, Fruman and Kukushkin has been scheduled for March 1, 2021.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.