Crime - Sacto 911

Kukushkin pleads not guilty to conspiring with Giuliani associates

Andrey Kukushkin, right, leaves federal court, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New York. Kukushkin and David Correia pleaded not guilty Thursday to conspiring with associates of Rudy Giuliani to make illegal campaign contributions. They are among four men charged with using straw donors to make illegal contributions to politicians they thought could help their political and business interests. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
Andrey Kukushkin, right, leaves federal court, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New York. Kukushkin and David Correia pleaded not guilty Thursday to conspiring with associates of Rudy Giuliani to make illegal campaign contributions. They are among four men charged with using straw donors to make illegal contributions to politicians they thought could help their political and business interests. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) AP

Two businessmen pleaded not guilty Thursday to conspiring with associates of Rudy Giuliani to make illegal campaign contributions, as a prosecutor said evidence includes data from over 50 bank accounts and information gathered through 10 search warrants.

Andrey Kukushkin and David Correia are among four men charged with using straw donors to make illegal contributions to politicians they thought could help their political and business interests, including committees supporting President Donald Trump and other Republicans.

Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born American citizen, was arrested in San Francisco last week in the campaign-finance scandal. The 46-year-old is partnered with Garib Karapetyan in a web of Sacramento cannabis outfits. Karapetyan, the undisputed king of cannabis in Sacramento, is the permit holder on eight Sacramento pot shops — out of 30, as reported in previous Sacramento Bee articles.

Their next court date was set for Dec. 2, though U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken granted a request from Kukushkin to remain in California, where a $1 million bail package limits where he can go beyond home to work, legal visits and medical appointments.

Two other men charged in the case, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, worked with Giuliani to try to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Democrat Joe Biden. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, has said he had no knowledge of illegal donations.

Prosecutors say Correia and Kukushkin teamed with Parnas and Fruman in a separate scheme to make illegal campaign donations to politicians in several states in an attempt to get support for a new recreational marijuana business.

Money for those donations was actually supplied, prosecutors say, by an unidentified foreign national with “Russian roots.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos told the judge the indictment could be updated, but he made no mention of whether others might be arrested.

It was fair, he said, “to characterize the government’s investigation as ongoing.”

Besides the bank and search warrant records, Roos said, prosecutors have obtained emails and electronic records for over 10 accounts.

The court hearing was finished in just over 15 minutes, and lawyers and their clients declined to speak afterward.

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