Prosecutors rest; Giuliani associate considers testifying

Lev Parnas walks past criminal court, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, in New York. Parnas, a onetime associate of Rudy Giuliani, is accused along with a co-defendant of making illegal campaign contributions. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
·2 min read

NEW YORK (AP) — An associate of Rudy Giuliani must decide by Wednesday morning whether to testify at his trial on charges that he illegally enabled a Russian financier to contribute to U.S. politicians.

Attorney Joseph Bondy said after prosecutors finished presenting evidence Tuesday that Lev Parnas has not yet decided whether to testify.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken gave Parnas the night to decide. Either way, closings arguments are likely to occur Thursday.

“This is perhaps the most important decision he’ll make in this case and one of the most important he’ll make in his life,” Bondy said of his client's choice as he opposed a request by prosecutors that Parnas announce his intention on Tuesday.

Parnas, a Florida businessman, and his co-defendant Andrey Kukushkin have pleaded not guilty to charges alleging that they conspired to use over $100,000 of a $1 million investment from a Russian financier to contribute to politicians who they thought could advance their business interests.

Parnas aided Giuliani's efforts to try to convince Ukrainian officials to investigate President Joe Biden's son when Biden was running for president.

Giuliani is not charged in the case, but he is under investigation in New York for whether he was required to register as an agent of a foreign government for actions he said he took in his capacity as a private attorney for then-President Donald Trump.

Bondy sought assurances Tuesday that he could limit what subjects prosecutors could raise on cross examination if Parnas testifies.

If he testifies, Parnas can assert his Fifth Amendment right not to answer some questions, Bondy argued, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos insisted that he gives up that right once he takes the witness stand.

Prosecutors also said they could confront Parnas with things he told them when he was considering earlier this year whether a plea deal would be appropriate.

Bondy sought to prevent mention, if his client testifies, of charges pending in an upcoming New York trial in which Parnas is accused of defrauding customers of a company known as Fraud Guarantee. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges too.

Bondy, though, said it would be hard for Parnas to testify about the Fraud Guarantee case and “have him viewed as a credible person anymore.”

“Can't clean it up,” he told the judge.

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