A pro-Trump lawyer reportedly cemented the connection between Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas—a Giuliani associate who recently pleaded not guilty to campaign finance charges—by giving Trump’s personal attorney $500,000 on Parnas’ behalf. According to The New York Times, Long Island lawyer and Trump donor Charles Gucciardo first met Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman at an event for major donors at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gucciardo, Parnas, and Fruman all went on a group trip to Israel the following month. Anthony Scaramucci, a former Trump White House communications director who was also on the Israel trip, said the three men often touted their connections in Trump’s orbit—particularly to Giuliani.
When Parnas returned from the trip, he reportedly promised to pay Giuliani $500,000 for consulting, business, and legal advice. But Parnas was strapped for cash, and reportedly feared that not paying Giuliani would mean losing access to him. In September 2018, Gucciardo paid Giuliani’s firm $250,000 on behalf of Parnas’ company Fraud Guarantee, then paid another $250,000 the following month. By January 2019, Giuliani was allegedly enlisting Parnas and Fruman to go digging for dirt on former vice president Joe Biden in Ukraine.
Gucciardo’s lawyer told the Times his client’s $500,000 was an investment in Fraud Guarantee and said his client put down the money because Giuliani was involved. “He understood that he was investing in a reputable company that Rudolph Giuliani was going to be the spokesman and the face of,” Randy Zelin said. Giuliani told the newspaper the money was a “perfectly legitimate payment” and said Gucciardo got “promissory notes that were convertible into a percentage of the company.” However, Fraud Guarantee does not appear to have any customers and Giuliani did not appear to do any public marketing for the company. A lawyer for Parnas has not spoken publicly about the matter.