US prosecutor says upgraded indictment likely against Giuliani associates
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US prosecutor says upgraded indictment likely against Giuliani associates

Existing indictment of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records

A man holds a sign in the street as Lev Parnas arrives at  court in New York, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
A man holds a sign in the street as Lev Parnas arrives at court in New York, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — An upgraded indictment is likely in the criminal case against two Rudy Giuliani associates with ties to Ukraine, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Assistant US Attorney Douglas Zolkind made the prediction during a pretrial hearing in the case against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

“We think a superseding indictment is likely, but no decision has been made,” Zolkind told US District Judge J. Paul Oetken, who is presiding over the case. “It’s something we’re continuing to evaluate.”

A rewritten indictment could add or subtract charges and could result in additional arrests, though Zolkind gave no indication of what changes might be made to an indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.

Zolkind said evidence being turned over to defense attorneys includes thousands of files, much of it phone, bank and internet records. He said there were no wiretaps, but there were statements from witnesses.

Fruman was excused from Monday’s routine pretrial hearing, though Parnas attended and declined to answer questions as he left the Manhattan courthouse while he walked through a snowstorm with his wife.

Lev Parnas arrives to court in New York, Dec. 2, 2019. Parnas and Igor Fruman, close associates to US 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  (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The men were arrested in October on charges that they used foreign money to make illegal campaign contributions. Prosecutors said the donations were made while the men were lobbying US politicians to oust the US ambassador to Ukraine.

The arrest of the men has brought new scrutiny to dealings in Ukraine by Giuliani, a former New York City mayor who is President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Giuliani’s actions are being looked at as part of the investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors.

Giuliani, who has said he knew nothing about illegal campaign donations, was trying to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Trump’s potential Democratic challenger, Joe Biden. Parnas and Fruman had key roles in Giuliani’s quest.

The pressure put on Ukraine has led to a congressional impeachment investigation into whether Trump engaged in “treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors” by withholding $400 million in aid while pushing Ukraine to investigation Biden.

Joseph Bondy, an attorney for Parnas, said his client wanted to comply with the House Intelligence Committee subpoena to testify.

US Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is chairman of the committee, has said he was in discussions with lawyers for Parnas about testifying.

In a recent Fox News interview, Giuliani was asked about the work Parnas and Fruman did for him in Ukraine.

“So, they helped me find people, and as I’ve said, they did a good job, but they weren’t investigators, and they weren’t James Bond, and they didn’t have personal communications with the president,” Giuliani said.

Giuliani said he introduced the men to Trump at a Hanukkah party in December 2018 but characterized it as a brief interaction of little substance.

“They took a one-minute picture. They walked away,” he said.

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