NEW YORK (AP) — A three-to-four year prison sentence is appropriate for a Florida businessman who facilitated illegal foreign campaign contributions after helping Rudy Giuliani seek damaging information on Joe Biden in Ukraine, prosecutors said Friday after defense lawyers urged their client be spared from a prison term.
Prosecutors said in advance of the Jan. 21 sentencing of Igor Fruman, 55, that his admission that he solicited a million dollars in illegal foreign contributions to American political candidates warranted a sentence consistent with federal sentencing guidelines.
“In short, Fruman ran a scheme to influence U.S. elections with foreign money from start to finish, and should receive the recommended sentence for that serious crime," they wrote.
Fruman pleaded guilty in September to a single count of solicitation of a contribution by a foreign national to resolve more expansive charges contained in an indictment. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 37 to 46 months.
Prosecutors also said the type of crime should be considered by the sentencing judge.
“The serious nature of trying to funnel a million dollars from a Russian oligarch into U.S. elections is obvious,” prosecutors said.
Fruman's lawyers, citing a largely law-abiding life and his generosity to his family and community, said in a submission last week that he should not be incarcerated as punishment.
They said the sentencing guidelines “overstates the nature and circumstances" of the crime.
“Mr. Fruman’s current financial condition is also strained and will obviously be worsened if he is incarcerated. The fallout from this case and the COVID pandemic have presented extraordinary challenges to Mr. Fruman’s business, forcing Mr. Fruman to support himself and his family using his life savings," the lawyers said.
Lev Parnas, another Florida businessman who aided Giuliani's efforts to derail Biden's quest for the presidency on the Democratic ticket, was convicted in October of campaign finance crimes. He also awaits sentencing. At the same trial, Ukraine-born investor Andrey Kukushkin was also convicted.
Another co-defendant, David Correia, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison for crimes including defrauding investors in an insurance company that had paid Giuliani a $500,000 consulting fee.
The former New York mayor who worked for then-President Donald Trump has insisted he knew nothing about potentially illegal campaign contributions.
Facing a continuing investigation into whether he was required to register as an agent of a foreign government, Giuliani has said everything he did in Ukraine was done on Trump’s behalf and there is no reason he would have had to register as a foreign agent.