Fourth man allegedly involved in Ukrainian campaign finance scheme in custody
(CNN) — David Correia, one of the four men charged last week in an alleged campaign finance scheme involving associates of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, was arrested Wednesday morning at New York’s JFK Airport, according to a spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Manhattan.
Correia was due back in the country Wednesday and FBI agents met him at the airport.
Correia, Igor Fruman, Lev Parnas and Andrey Kukushkin are due in court Thursday for their arraignment.
Correia is a longtime business associate of Parnas. He was charged as part of a scheme to funnel money from someone described as a Russian national into US elections. According to the indictment, Correia and the other men planned a multi-state strategy to make between $1 to $2 million in political donations to federal and state committees where they were trying to get a recreational marijuana business started.
Parnas, Fruman and Kukushkin were arrested last week when the charges were announced. They will be transferred to New York for Thursday’s arraignment.
Parnas and Fruman worked with Giuliani and introduced him to Ukrainian prosecutors who Giuliani claims provided negative information about Trump’s political rival Joe Biden.
Fruman and Parnas asked a US congressman, who is not named in the indictment but appears to be former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, to help get the US ambassador to Ukraine fired at the same time that they were committing to raise tens of thousands of dollars for that congressman’s reelection effort, according to the indictment.
Parnas made the request to the congressman in part at the behest of one or more Ukrainian government officials, the indictment states. Donations to Sessions match those laid out in the documents and he has publicly acknowledged raising criticism of the former ambassador. Fruman allegedly made the donation in Parnas’ name, violating campaign finance laws.
In a statement, Sessions said he “could not have had” knowledge of the alleged scheme. “I was first approached by these individuals for a meeting about the strategic need for Ukraine to become energy independent,” he said. “There was no request in that meeting and I took no action.”
In recent days a federal grand jury in the Southern District of New York sent a subpoena to Sessions for documents and records. Sessions’ spokesman said he is cooperating.
Parnas and Fruman were also charged with a straw donor scheme. The indictment lays out how they donated $325,000 to a pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, around this same time through a limited-liability company, Global Energy Producers, allegedly created for the purpose of masking the true source of their campaign contributions. That PAC spent over $3 million to back Sessions in the 2018 campaign but he went on to lose his seat.
America First Action told CNN in a statement that it has not used the donation and that it placed the contribution from Global Energy Producers in a segregated bank account after it became the subject of a Federal Election Commission complaint and lawsuit.