Lawyer for Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas asks to withdraw, cites ebbing defense funds

Lawyer for Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas asks to withdraw, cites ebbing defense funds

December 26, 2019

NEW YORK — An attorney for indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas has asked to withdraw as the Ukrainian-born defendant in a campaign finance conspiracy case apparently runs low on legal funding.

Defense lawyer Edward MacMahon filed a Christmas Eve withdrawal request in Manhattan federal court that said Parnas’ “apparent ability to fund his defense has diminished.”

“It thus would constitute a significant hardship for Mr. Parnas to continue being represented by two attorneys in this matter,” wrote the Virginia-based MacMahon.

New York City defense lawyer Joseph Bondy will continue to represent Parnas in a campaign finance conspiracy case if U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken approves the withdrawal request. Similar motions are often routinely granted.

Photo shows the lawyer for US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, right, and a businessman who served as Giuliani's associate in Ukraine, Lev Parnas, left, as they arrived for the funeral of late US President George H.W. Bush at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on December 5, 2018. (Photo by Alex Edelman / AFPX via Getty Images) (Photo: ALEX EDELMAN, AFP via Getty Images)

Parnas, Belarus-born associate Igor Fruman were indicted in October on charges they conspired to surreptitiously funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign money to U.S. election candidates and campaign committees. Evidence in the case included $325,000 allegedly contributed under a false donor name to a super political action committee for President Donald Trump, whose personal attorney is Giuliani.

Co-defendants David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin are charged with Parnas and Fruman of contributing foreign funds to election candidates in Nevada and other states in a bid to win support for a planned cannabis business.

The four men have entered not-guilty pleas.

Separately, Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani as he sought damaging information in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe about the family of former vice president Joseph Biden — who’s vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

The Soviet-born defendants also reportedly aided Giuliani’s drive to oustMarie Yovanovitch, who served as the U.A. ambassador to Ukraine. After Trump complained about Yovanovitch, the U.S. Department of State abruptly recalled the veteran diplomat from her post in May.

This Facebook screen shot provided by The Campaign Legal Center, shows President Donald Trump standing with Lev Parnas, top left photo, at the White House in Washington, posted on May 1, 2018. (Photo: AP)

The Yovanovitch episode drew attention from the House impeachment proceeding against Trump, prompting subpoenas to Parnas and Fruman. Both men initially refused to comply.

However, Parnas subsequently agreed to cooperate, by turning over documents and signaling, through Bondy, his willingness to testify if granted immunity from the criminal charges in the campaign conspiracy case.

Trump has denied that he knew Parnas and Fruman, despite photos that showed the two men with him.

MacMahon’s bid to withdraw withdrawal from the defense team came days after Bondy and Manhattan federal prosecutors exchanged legal arguments about the apparent status of Parnas’ financial affairs and the decision that has allowed him to remain under home detention while awaiting trial.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York argued that Parnas’ $1 million bail bond should be revoked because he had access to seemingly unlimited foreign funding. As proof, they cited $1 million in loans to Parnas and his wife, Svetlana Parnas, from Ralph Oswald Isenegger, an attorney for indicted Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash.

Firtash is currently in Austria, where’s he’s battling extradition to Chicago federal court for trial charges he used the U.S. financial system to bribe Indian officials for titanium mining licenses. Firtash has pleaded not guilty.

Isenegger said the loan came from his own money, not funding from Firtash or other clients, according to a Reuters report.

Financial records Bondy filed in court on Dec. 20 showed that Parnas and his wife had burned through all but roughly $95,000 of the loans as of late November, with major chunks of the funds going to secure Parnas’ release bond and to a down payment on a since-aborted plan to buy a Florida home.

Bondy argued that Parnas intends to defend himself at trial, and had no reason or means to flee the U.S.

Oetken agreed to allow Parnas to remain under home detention, with 24-hour global position system monitoring and bans on going outside for anything other than lawyer meetings, medical appointments, and religious observances. However, the judge denied Bondy’s request for easing those restrictions.

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