Giuliani associate Correia pleads guilty to making false statements
David Correia, a defendant in the case against associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on Thursday pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Federal Elections Commission and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to Politico, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken accepted the plea during a proceeding held via videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Correia’s sentencing is set for Feb. 8.
Correia, a 45-year-old former professional golfer and restauranteur, is the first to plead guilty in the case involving three other men— Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and Andrei Kukushkin— who were all allegedly involved in a campaign finance scheme.
Parnas and Furman also face additional charges of “soliciting a foreign national to make donations and contributions in connection with federal and state elections,” as well as for “aiding and abetting the making of donations and contributions by a foreign national in connection with federal and state elections.”
Parnas and Fruman were also previously charged with “conspiring to make contributions in connection with federal elections in the names of others, and with making false statements to and falsifying records to obstruct the administration of a matter within the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission (‘FEC’).”
In 2019, Parnas and Furman also worked with Giuliani in an attempt to find harmful information on Marie Yovanovitch, then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Trump eventually removed Yovanovitch from her post last year, with the former ambassador later serving as a key witness in Trump’s impeachment proceedings.
According to the indictment filed in September, the four men (including Correia) allegedly used foreign funds to influence political campaigns in the U.S., benefit their own businesses and encourage the ousting of Yovanovitch.
The charges make no reference to Giuliani, and the former New York City mayor has repeatedly disputed claims of any wrongdoing in relation to the case against his four associates.
Politico reported that at the end of Thursday’s hearing, Oetken said that Correia’s guilty plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan “is not a cooperation agreement,” meaning that he is not required to assist the attorney’s office in their case against the other defendants.
Correia faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years, but the defense and prosecution agreed that sentencing guidelines instead suggest he should serve between 33 and 41 months in prison, according to Politico.
The trial for the three other defendants is scheduled for March 1, although the date could change due to social distancing guidelines and other health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
President Trump has denied any wrongdoing in connection with Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine or the work of the associates, although Democrats have used the allegations to accuse Trump of abusing his power.