NEW YORK, Sept 10 (Reuters) - A former associate of Rudy Giuliani who helped him collect damaging information in Ukraine about U.S. President Joe Biden before the 2020 election pleaded guilty on Friday to one criminal count in a campaign finance case.
Igor Fruman, 56, admitted to soliciting money from a foreign national at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan.
His plea does not include an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors examining Giuliani's dealings in Ukraine, including whether the onetime New York City mayor violated lobbying laws while serving as former U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer.
Fruman could face up to 46 months in prison under recommended federal guidelines at his Jan. 21, 2022 sentencing.
The Belarus-born Fruman his former business partner, Ukraine-born businessman Lev Parnas, were charged in October 2019 with concealing an illegal $325,000 donation to support Trump's 2020 re-election campaign.
They and another defendant, Andrey Kukushkin, were also charged with illegally using donations to U.S. politicians from a Russian businessman to obtain legal recreational marijuana distribution licenses.
Fruman's plea relates to that business. In his allocution, he said he had envisioned making donations to Democratic and Republican officials in U.S. states where he wanted to operate, and sent a list of those officials to the foreign national.
"At that time, I had little experience in the rules surrounding political donations," Fruman said. "But I generally understood that foreign nationals and individuals who are not American citizens were not allowed to make political donations in the United States.
"I deeply regret my actions and apologize to the court and the United States government," he added.
A federal prosecutor said $1 million was wired as part of the scheme.
Lawyers for Parnas and Kukushkin did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Parnas and Kukushkin have pleaded not guilty and face an Oct. 12 trial.
Giuliani had enlisted Fruman and Parnas to help uncover dirt about then-presidential candidate Biden and his son, Hunter.
Prosecutors said Fruman and Parnas also aided an effort to oust then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who Trump fired in May 2019.
Giuliani has not been charged and has denied wrongdoing.
Federal agents seized cellphones and computers in searches of his home and office in April.
Giuliani's New York law license was suspended in June after a court found he lied by arguing that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.
The case against Parnas had included a charge he conned people into investing more than $2 million in a fraud insurance company, Fraud Guarantee, but prosecutors last month removed that charge from an amended indictment.
A fourth defendant, David Correia, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge related to Fraud Guarantee and was sentenced in February to one year and one day in prison.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Karen Freifeld in New York, and Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware Editing by Alistair Bell)