NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors secured a guilty plea Thursday from a Florida businessman who hired one of President Donald Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, to lend credibility to a supposedly fraud-busting company authorities say was a fraud itself.
The plea by David Correia, 45, a former golf professional, came to charges of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and wire fraud conspiracy. It occurred in a remote appearance before US District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan. Sentencing was set for Feb. 8.
The wire fraud plea pertained to a business named Fraud Guarantee, a Florida-based entity formed eight years ago to protect investors against fraud. As part of the plea, Correia agreed that federal sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of about three years in prison, though his lawyer can argue for less. He also agreed that he owes $2.3 million in restitution and must forfeit $43,650.
The charge directly related to Fraud Guarantee was added last month to a broader criminal case against two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who worked with Giuliani to try to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
As he entered his plea in a video conference held because of the pandemic, Correia admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong when he committed the crimes.
He said he knew that a declaration he filed with the Federal Election Commission in October 2018 contained “things that were probably false,” but he said he wanted to hasten the end of the agency’s investigation, “which I believed was unwarranted.”
Regarding the Fraud Guarantee project, Correia said he knew he was giving investors wrong information but did so because, “I wanted investors to participate in what I thought was a great project.”