Judge Won't Revoke Bail For Lev Parnas Despite Prosecutors' Request

Federal prosecutors want the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani jailed, alleging he lied about receiving $1 million from a Russian bank account and might flee.

A federal judge has declined to revoke bail for Lev Parnas, despite prosecutors alleging that the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani is a flight risk and lied about his assets and income.

The Tuesday bail hearing was scheduled because prosecutors with the U.S. Southern District of New York want to have Parnas redetained without bail after accusing him earlier this month of misleading his pretrial services officer by failing to disclose a $1 million payment he and his wife received from a Russian bank account in September. 

Parnas’ lawyer Joseph Bondy has disputed those claims, filing a response to prosecutors Monday saying his client is not a flight risk and that he did not mislead his pretrial services officer. Bondy says the money was sent to Parnas’ wife Svetlana’s bank account as a loan, and therefore is considered part of her assets.

Prosecutors were skeptical of that claim. “It is an unsecured, undocumented loan to a housewife. That makes no sense, your honor,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebekah Donaleski said, according to CNN.

Judge J. Paul Oetken said Tuesday that the information Parnas provided about his assets and income “might have violated the spirit” of the disclosure requirements, but that “I don’t know that it rises to the level of intentional misstatements warranting the revocation of bail,” according to CNN.

At the bail hearing, both Bondy and the prosecutors said the $1 million payment from Swiss national Ralph Oswald Isenegger, a lawyer representing Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash, according to CNN. Firtash is currently fighting extradition to the United States while facing bribery charges.

Parnas’ lawyer told the judge that Parnas has severed his connection with Firtash after offering to cooperate with his congressional subpoena in relation to the impeachment investigation, according to Politico.

“He has burned that bridge, to the extent there was ever a bridge,” Bondy said, according to Politico.

The payment to Parnas came a month before he was charged with conspiring to funnel foreign money into Republican campaigns in the U.S. Parnas was indicted in October with his associate Igor Fruman on campaign finance charges related to using an unnamed Russian national as a source of funds for political donations, which were meant to win support from state and federal officials for a retail marijuana business.

Those charges in part stemmed from Parnas and Fruman working with Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, to start a smear campaign about Marie Yovanovitch, who was eventually ousted as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in response to the smear campaign.

Prosecutors initially asked for Parnas’ bail to be revoked after the businessman requested his house arrest be loosened. Oetken also rejected that request Tuesday, meaning Parnas must continue to stay in his home in Florida.