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Fruman and his business partner Lev Parnas, a co-defendant in the same case, had worked with Giuliani in an effort to dig up damaging information about President Joe Biden in Ukraine when Biden had emerged as a leading challenger to then-President Donald Trump.
The change-of-plea hearing in Manhattan federal court came as Giuliani, who has acted as Trump’s personal attorney, faces an ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Giuliani, who denies any wrongdoing, served two terms as mayor of New York after heading that same prosecutors’ office for years.
The Ukraine-born Fruman was originally charged with 10 crimes.
But in court Friday, he agreed to plead guilty only to a single count related to soliciting U.S. campaign contributions from a foreign national as part of what prosecutors said was a bid to get state-issued recreational marijuana business licenses for a cannabis venture that ultimately never got off the ground.
Fruman said the money was solicited from a foreign businessman who was interested in investing in the cannabis company that Fruman and others were pursuing.
The campaign donations were earmarked for government officials, both Republican and Democrat, in states moving to legalize marijuana.
“I deeply regret my actions and apologize to the court and the United States government for this conduct,” Fruman told Judge J. Paul Oetken, after admitting that he had known such campaign donations from foreigners were illegal under American law.
Fruman’s plea came in an agreement with prosecutors that led to the other charges being dropped, but he has not agreed to a deal that would compel him to cooperate with federal prosecutors in any ongoing investigation.
His sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 21, and he remains free on bond. The plea agreement stipulates that federal sentencing guidelines suggest that Fruman receive a prison term of between three years and three years and 10 months.
But Oetken is not bound by those guidelines.
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