War gives softer sentence in illegal campaign donation case

NEW YORK (AP) — A Ukrainian-born businessman was sentenced Tuesday to a year and a day in prison for being convicted of a conspiracy that allowed a Russian tycoon to make illegal donations to candidates American politicians with the help of two associates of Rudy Giuliani.

Andrey Kukushkin, 49, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge J. Paul Oetken, who said Kukushkin deserved leniency from federal sentencing guidelines that recommended he serve four to five years behind bars.

The judge cited the war in Ukraine and the “terrible emotional hardship” that resulted from it, as well as unusual personal circumstances for Kukushkin, including serious medical issues faced by Kukushkin’s parents.

It also fined Kukushkin $10,000 for his conviction for conspiracy to make unlawful foreign contributions and aiding and abetting.

Before the sentence was revealed, Kukushkin, wiping away tears, described himself as a victim of bad decisions made by others, telling the judge he had made the “colossal mistake of trusting people”.

Kukushkin, who moved to the United States in the 1990s, was found guilty at a trial in the fall by a jury that also convicted Lev Parnas, who is awaiting sentencing.

Parnas and Igor Fruman, who pleaded guilty to a single charge before trial and were sentenced to a year in prison, helped Giuliani’s efforts to get Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden’s son during the presidential campaign of Biden.

Giuliani is under criminal investigation as authorities decide whether his interactions with Ukrainian officials forced him to register as a foreign agent, but he has not been charged with involvement in illegal campaign contributions and was not part of the trial of Kukushkin and Parnas.

On Monday, prosecutors revealed the Russian tycoon – Andrey Muraviev – was secretly charged in the case in 2020, despite being believed to reside in Russia.

An indictment said Muraviev conspired with the other men to funnel $1 million of his fortune to US political candidates who could support their efforts to acquire cannabis and marijuana retail licenses in the United States. United.

Authorities said Parnas and Fruman pocketed some of the money, instead using it for personal expenses, while donating primarily to Republicans in Nevada, Florida and other states.

Kukushkin’s lawyer, Gérald Lefcourt, called for his client to be spared jail time, saying he was different from other defendants in the case because he was not charged with multiple frauds and did not lie to institutions financial.

Assistant US Attorney Aline Flodr had pleaded for a sentence of at least four years in prison, saying others who might commit a similar crime should know they would be taken seriously.

She said members of the American public were “the real victims”.

The case, she said, demonstrated that “all the things they fear are happening to the American political system are actually happening.”

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