Giuliani associate decides not to testify at criminal trial

Politics

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)

NEW YORK (AP) — An associate of Rudy Giuliani told a federal judge Wednesday that he will not testify at his own trial on charges alleging he used a Russian financier’s money to make donations to U.S. political candidates.

Lev Parnas made the announcement in Manhattan a day after prosecutors finished presenting evidence against him. He said he did so after consulting with his wife and family.

The Florida businessman and a codefendant, Andrey Kukushkin, have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Kukushkin also announced Wednesday that he will not testify. Shortly afterward, the defense rested.

Judge J. Paul Oetken told jurors to return Thursday for closing arguments in the two-week-old trial. Lawyers and the judge planned to spend Wednesday finalizing how laws will be explained to jurors before they begin deliberations.

Prosecutors say Parnas and Kukushkin 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, including in an energy company and the legal marijuana industry.

After prosecutors finished their case Tuesday, defense lawyers asked the judge to conclude the government had failed to prove the charges. The judge did not immediately rule.

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.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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