SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - A prosecutor says an upgraded indictment is likely in the criminal case against two Rudy Giuliani associates with ties to Ukraine. Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Zolkind made the prediction during a pretrial hearing Monday in the case against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The men are charged with using foreign money to make illegal campaign contributions.
The business associates of President Trump's personal attorney are accused of illegal funneling foreign money to politicans and a pro-Trump super PAC. They're now tied to the alleged pressure campagin on the Ukraine at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. President Trump and Giuliani are not named in the indictment. Their case returned to court for a pretrial hearing in the Southern District of New York.
The charges were announced in a federal indictment in October. It also ensnared Andrey Kukushkin from San Francisco and David Correia from Florida. Federal prosecutors say the four men schemed to move money from a Russian businessman to the pockets of candidates in Nevada and "other states." The indictment charges it was in hopes of getting licenses and favors to grow their marijuana business. "He decided to be in marijuana business which is now very trendy.. and legal," said Edward Olshanetsky, a friend of Kukushkin's.
The friend who appeared at Kukushkin's first hearing in San Francisco said he would never break the law. A search of public records shows Kukushkin is involved with numerous LLCs tied to California's budding marijuana industry. He and busiess partner Chuk Campos recently field an application to turn the sprawling Livermore property into a "cannabis cultivation and processing facility." The proposal included a 34,000 square-foot greenhouse and a 6,480 square-foot processing building. The indictment does not explicitly link the Livermore property to the scheme.
We drove to the property to see if anyone would speak to us. Campos answered the door, confirmed he was Kukushkin's business partner and said "no comment." Campos is not named in any of the criminal complaints. On the Oasis website, several partners are listed, we called each one. Several did not return our request for comment, two said they're not affiliated with the project. Two others, Sandia and Livermore Labs also said they are not affiliated and have been removed from the website.
Kukushkin's arrest also prompted the state's bureau of cannabis control to review a dozen licenses granted to him and another business partner, including several in Sacramento. A spokesperson for the bureau said the review is ongoing.
Kukushkin previously pleaded not guilty and was released after posting bail. His attorney did not return our request for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.