(Reuters) – Opening arguments are set to begin on Wednesday in the trial of Lev Parnas, a onetime associate of Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, on a charge of violating campaign finance laws.
Prosecutors have said that Parnas concealed an illegal $325,000 donation to Trump’s unsuccessful 2020 presidential re-election bid.
The Ukraine-born Parnas and his co-defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, are also charged with illegally using donations to U.S. politicians from a Russian businessman to obtain legal, recreational marijuana distribution licenses.
Kukushkin and Parnas have pleaded not guilty.
The case in New York’s Manhattan federal court, overseen by U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetkin, has drawn attention because of Parnas’ ties to Giuliani, a forceful supporter of Trump’s false claims that the former president lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden because of widespread voter fraud.
The trial could shed light on how campaign finance operates behind the scenes, including during Trump’s re-election bid.
Ten men and five women were selected as jurors on Tuesday. Three of those will serve as alternates.
One juror who said his brother worked as a real estate attorney at the Trump Organization will hear the case.
Giuliani enlisted Parnas and another associate, Igor Fruman, to dig up dirt in Ukraine about Biden and his son Hunter before the election. Last month, Fruman pleaded guilty to soliciting money from a foreign national.
The Parnas case is separate from a federal probe into Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine, including whether the former New York mayor violated lobbying laws while working as Trump’s lawyer.
Giuliani has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing. His lawyer has said Parnas’ case and the lobbying probe are unrelated.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Peter Cooney)
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