Upgraded indictment 'likely' against Giuliani associates, says prosecutor

Lev Parnas and his wife Svetlana arrive at the United States Courthouse in New York Dec. 2 2019

Parnas and Igor Fruman, close associates to U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, were arrested last month at an airport outside Washington while trying to board a flight to Europe with one-way tickets. Giuliani himself is the subject of a federal investigation, according to multiple reports.

Assistant US attorney Douglas Zolkind made the prediction during a pre-trial hearing Monday in the case against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Parnas and Fruman, already facing charges for conspiracy, false statements, and falsification of records in connection with alleged campaign finance violations, will "likely" be hit with a superseding indictment, the government says. But it's their work helping Giuliani dig up dirt in Ukraine that has put the pair under intense public scrutiny.

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. It also could be a milestone for Parnas, who has said that he wants to try to cooperate with Congress' investigation of the Ukraine affair.

He was mentioned in the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Witnesses have described Giuliani as a major figure in that effort.

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Investigators have issued subpoenas to a range of companies and individuals who had dealings with the two men.

Zolkind also opposed a request by Parnas for more lenient home detention conditions, saying there's a risk he would flee because of his ties to Ukraine and a "billionaire oligarch in Vienna" now fighting extradition to the U.S. The reference was likely to Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, who lives in Austria and is facing prosecution in Chicago for overseas bribery.

Parnas has indicated that he intends to comply with a subpoena he received from Democrats in the House of Representatives. Prosecutors claim he, Igor Fruman, David Correia, and Andrey Kukushkin variously schemed to hide donations to Republican candidates through straw-donors and allegedly funneled money put up by an unnamed Russian national into the USA electoral process. Giuliani's actions are being looked at as part of the investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors. According to the indictment, Parnas and Fruman were working, at least in part, in coordination with a Ukrainian official.

Sessions lost his seat in the 2018 midterms.

Yovanovitch was recalled from her post weeks later amid a smear campaign by Giuliani and others on conservative media outlets. Trump has said the impeachment probe is politically motivated and called it a witch hunt. The group says it contacted prosecutors with the Southern District of NY and offered voluntarily to cooperate.

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