Defendant in Giuliani associates probe gets bail

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A South Florida businessman accused of secretly working with clients of President Donald Trump's personal attorney to funnel illegal foreign cash to US political campaigns pleaded not guilty to a felony conspiracy charge Thursday during a brief court appearance in federal court in Manhattan. Parnas and Fruman were involved this year in helping find information that Giuliani sought to show alleged corruption by former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.

Giuliani is President Donald Trump's personal lawyer and a former New York City mayor.

The first indication of the broader investigation emerged last week when Manhattan-based investigators pursuing the charges brought last week against four Giuliani associates, including Parnas and Fruman, who were indicted on campaign finance-related offenses.

Since the indictment, Giuliani has acknowledged receiving $500,000 in payments for work he did with Parnas.

The New York Times last week said Mr Parnas had told associates that he paid Mr Giuliani hundreds of thousands of dollars for what Mr Giuliani said was business and legal advice.

Trump has denied knowing Parnas and Fruman specifically, though he is pictured with the two at multiple events.

The businessman, Mr Lev Parnas, is a close associate of Mr Giuliani and was involved in his effort to investigate Mr Trump's political rival, former United States vice-president Joe Biden, who is a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic Party nomination. "The indictment, details how the four defendants allegedly funneled "$1-2 million" from a Russian donor into the US political system between June 2018 and April of this year.

Correia is named in an indictment with two Giuliani associates arrested last week on charges they made illegal contributions to a congressman and a political action committee supporting President Donald Trump.

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All of the defendants are US citizens, but Kukushkin and Parnas were born in Ukraine and Fruman in Belarus. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebekah Donaleski and Nicolas Roos represented the government at the hearing.

The indictment doesn't name the congressman, but the description matches ABC News' reporting that Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, had benefited from $3 million in backing from the super PAC during the 2018 cycle, and that during the same month that Parnas raised funds for Sessions, Sessions wrote a letter calling for Yovanovitch's immediate removal.

In recent days a federal grand jury in the Southern District of NY sent a subpoena to Sessions for documents and records.

Andrey Kukushkin and David Correia plotted to funnel illicit funds into state and federal elections as part of a scheme to skirt USA election laws, according to authorities.

Kent's testimony came after Fiona Hill, former senior director for European and Russian affairs on Trump's National Security Council, spent all day in Washington answering questions on October 14.

Two other defendants - Giuliani pals Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas - are scheduled to be arraigned before Oetken on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday evening, Fruman had met the bond requirements and was no longer in the custody of the Alexandria, Virginia, jail.

Kukushkin, a marijuana businessman in California where recreational weed is legal, was arrested in San Francisco last week and released on $1 million bail after surrendering his passports.

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