Giuliani associate would take fifth in Florida case, lawyer says

Christian Berthelsen

Lev Parnas, one of the associates of Rudy Giuliani facing federal campaign finance charges in New York, has asked to delay a Florida proceeding that is also probing the source of his political donations, saying he would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if forced to testify in the civil case.

The Pues Family Trust is asking a federal court in West Palm Beach to enforce an earlier $510,000 judgment against Parnas for failure to repay a loan. After Parnas and a co-defendant, Igor Fruman, were charged last month in New York with hiding the true source of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to a political action committee tied to President Donald Trump, the trust sought and won a court order requiring Parnas to explain how he got that money.

In this Oct. 23, 2019, file photo, Lev Parnas makes a statement to the media following his arraignment in New York.

But “the scope of the questioning intended for Mr. Parnas directly implicates the subject matter of several of the counts of his indictment,” according to a filing by his lawyer in the case, David Kubiliun of Greenspoon Marder in Miami. “He would decline to answer these questions on the ground that his answers would violate his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.”

The filing asks for the proceeding to be postponed until his criminal case is resolved. It was not clear when a decision will be made.

Parnas and Fruman worked with Giuliani on efforts to dig up political ammunition for Trump in Ukraine against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. According to the indictment in the New York criminal case, their campaign donations played a role in the pressure campaign to remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Marie Yovanovitch. Trump recalled her from her post earlier this year.

The case is Pues Family Trust IRA v Parnas, 19-mc-80024, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (West Palm Beach).