Politics

Feds arrest fourth defendant in Ukrainian campaign finance case tied to Giuliani

A self-described former pro golfer from South Florida who was indicted last week on campaign finance charges was arrested by federal authorities on Wednesday.

David Correia, who worked with Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, is now in federal custody and will be arraigned Thursday before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan federal court, a Justice Department spokesperson said.

Spokespersons for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and the FBI confirmed that Correia was arrested Wednesday morning after getting off a flight at JFK Airport.

Correia was one of four people, including Parnas, Igor Fruman and Andrey Kukushkin, who allegedly conspired to circumvent federal campaign finance laws by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and state office so they could buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges that Parnas and Fruman received two $500,000 wire transfers from an unnamed foreign businessman to use for political contributions to state candidates in Nevada, where the two men and their indicted partners — Correia and Kukushkin — were pursuing a recreational marijuana license.

A neighbor said Wednesday morning there had been no sign of federal agents or police at Correia’s house in Palm Beach Gardens near the Eastpointe Country Club. No one answered the door at the home.

Correia has been a pro golfer, a restaurant owner, a Philadelphia real estate investor and a commercial mortgage lender, according to his company biography. His LinkedIn profile describes him as a “serial entrepreneur.”

He has been associated with Lev Parnas since at least 2012, when he was listed as the secretary of a company called Parnas Holdings, Florida corporate records show.

Correia fruman trump.jpg
David Correia and Igor Fruman appear to have met President Donald Trump at a campaign event for America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, according to a photo posted on July 4, 2018, on the Facebook page of Ukraine’s chief rabbi. Facebook

Their biggest venture together has been a South Florida firm called Fraud Guarantee that told investors it could protect their money from swindlers. Correia was listed as a co-founder.

Over the summer, Correia called a New Jersey couple seeking to enforce a $500,000 court judgment against Parnas in Florida over a movie deal gone bad.

“He said we no longer knew who we were dealing with and that [they] had ties all the way up to the State Department and the White House and they were partners with Rudy Giuliani,” Dianne Pues recalled in an interview with the Miami Herald.

Pues’ attorney, Tony Andre, said in an interview that Correia “seems like he’s worked with [Parnas] for years.”

“It seems like Lev is the boots-on-the-ground henchman for Fruman and Correia is like that for Parnas,” Andre said. “That’s the only thing I’ve been able to really gather.”

Giuliani told Reuters that he received $500,000 for his work with Boca Raton-based Fraud Guarantee.

On its website, Fraud Guarantee lists two office locations within walking distance of each other in Boca Raton.

When a Miami Herald reporter visited the locations on Monday, Fraud Guarantee was not listed on any of the directory signs. An employee of the offices’ leasing company Danburg Properties said she was not familiar with the name Fraud Guarantee. She wouldn’t give specific tenant information.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that he knew Parnas as “one of the top” Trump supporters in Florida.

“This is a guy who was at [Republican National Committee] functions, Trump Victory functions,” DeSantis said at an event in Jupiter. “He was at a lot of these things. It was like any other donor, nothing more than that.”

DeSantis received a $50,000 contribution from Global Energy Producers, a natural gas company that federal prosecutors say was created by Correia, Parnas, Fruman and Kukushkin to conceal illicit campaign funds. He returned the contribution to the U.S. Treasury after the Miami Herald reported Parnas hosted fundraisers for DeSantis.

Photos of DeSantis’ Election Night victory party show Parnas and Fruman both attended the event, snapping pictures and standing in close proximity to the future governor.

Voter records show Correia is not affiliated with a political party — but he seems to have become a fan of President Donald Trump. A photo posted online in January 2018 shows Correia with the president. Correia and Fruman also appear to have met Trump at a campaign event for America First Action, a pro-Trump super PAC, according to a photo posted on July 4, 2018, on the Facebook page of Ukraine’s chief rabbi.

Correia has not donated to any federal political campaigns within the last 10 years, federal records show. A search of Florida political contributions also came up empty. Correia’s wife, Katie, donated $2,700 to Trump’s presidential campaign in October 2016 and $2,300 to the National Republican Committee in October 2016, according to federal records.

In 2016, Correia and his wife paid $337,000 for a home in Palm Beach Gardens, according to county property records. He has found himself in Palm Beach County courts over several debts, including an eviction action against Fraud Guarantee that ended in a $26,000 judgment against the company, Parnas and Correia.

Miami Herald reporter Tess Riski contributed to this report.

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