Igor Fruman, a former Rudy Giuliani associate who aided the campaign to squeeze Ukraine into providing dirt on Joe Biden, is set to change his plea this week from his current plea of not guilty.
A change-of-plea hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in Fruman’s criminal case, where Manhattan federal prosecutors accuse Fruman and his associate Lev Parnas of campaign finance violations related to a scheme to remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Since their October 2019 indictment, Fruman and Parnas have proclaimed their innocence, albeit in different ways and for different reasons.
Fruman has been mostly tight-lipped since charges were brought. Parnas, with his attorney Joseph Bondy, embarked in November 2019 on a strategy to expel as much discovery material from the case into the then-ongoing impeachment saga as possible. The House Intelligence Committee obtained and released reams of texts and emails from Parnas, showing his role in the scheme to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce investigations into the Bidens.
Before being arrested at Dulles Airport as they prepared to leave the country, Fruman and Parnas had spent two years traveling with Rudy Giuliani.
The two Soviet-born businessmen were able to open doors for the Trump lawyer into the murky worlds of Ukrainian business and politics, including a bizarre episode in which they enraged an oligarch ally of the country’s president.
Manhattan federal prosecutors have been investigating Giuliani since summer 2019, and have purportedly zeroed in on his efforts to remove former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. FBI agents executed a dawn raid on Giuliani’s apartment and office in April, spawning a separate court battle over how to sort through reams of material that may include communications with Giuliani’s old client, former president Trump.
Fruman is likely to enter a guilty plea at the hearing. The terms of any potential future cooperation agreement remain unclear.
The indictment accused Fruman and Parnas of illegally concealing a $325,000 contribution to a PAC in support of Trump’s 2020 campaign, and also alleged that they, along with two others, defrauded investors in a marijuana business.
Parnas and Fruman played central roles in the pressure campaign on Ukraine that led to Trump’s first impeachment. Botched redactions in a May filing in the Giuliani search warrant case suggest that prosecutors are closely examining various Ukrainians who were involved in the effort to manufacture dirt on the Bidens.