NEW YORK (Reuters) – A business partner of Lev Parnas, the former associate of U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, is expected to enter a guilty plea on Thursday after being charged with defrauding investors in an insurance startup they founded.
Manhattan federal court records on Wednesday show that David Correia, the business partner, will appear for a change-of-plea hearing, which signals a guilty plea from a defendant who previously pleaded not guilty.
Correia was among four defendants, including Ukraine-born Parnas and Belarus-born Igor Fruman, another former Giuliani associate, charged last October with campaign finance violations to further their political or business interests. He would be the first to plead guilty.
A lawyer for Correia did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Giuliani has not been criminally charged and has denied wrongdoing
Prosecutors said Correia and Parnas conspired to induce investors to plow more than $2 million into their insurance company Fraud Guarantee, only to then spend much of it on rent, car leasing payments, political donations and other expenses.
Correia and the fourth defendant, Ukraine-born Andrey Kukushkin, were also charged over an alleged scheme to channel donations to U.S. politicians from a Russian businessman to support a proposed marijuana business.
Parnas, who has broken with Trump and Giuliani, and Fruman face separate charges for allegedly using a shell company to make an illegal $325,000 donation for Trump’s re-election.
The New York Times said Correia is expected to admit to duping Fraud Guarantee investors and making a false statement to the Federal Election Commission concerning campaign donations.
It also said Correia is not expected to cooperate with prosecutors investigating Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine.
Giuliani told Reuters last October he was paid $500,000 for work he did for Fraud Guarantee.
Parnas, Fruman and Kukushkin have pleaded not guilty. A trial is scheduled for March 1, 2021.
Fruman’s lawyer and a spokesman for Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss declined to comment. Lawyers for Parnas and Kukushkin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The case is U.S. v. Parnas et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 19-cr-00725.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Tom Brown)
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