David Correia, 45, appeared at Manhattan Federal Court via video conference on Thursday where he admitted to wire fraud conspiracy and lying to the Federal Election Commission.
Correia, a former professional golfer, was one of four men charged last year with using straw donors to make illegal donations to politicians they thought could aid their political and business interests.
David Correia, 45 (pictured in 2019) appeared at Manhattan Federal Court via video-conference on Thursday where he pleaded guilty to making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and wire fraud conspiracy
Correia (pictured with President Trump at an October 2016 fundraiser) said he lied to the FEC
He and fellow Giuliani associate Lev Parnas were hit with additional charges last month for scamming investors through the business they founded together, Fraud Guarantee.
Prosecutors said the pair had used false claims to entice seven investors to inject between $200,000 and $500,000 into the company from 2012 to 2019.
The funds however, were later withdrawn as cash and spent on rent, luxury cars and other expenses, assistant US Attorney Douglas Zolkind said.
Fraud Guarantee, which was formed eight years in Florida, ironically, claimed to protect investors against fraud but never became operational.
Parnas and Correia had also hired Giuliani to lend credibility to the company. Giuliani has said he was promised $500,000 for his work.
Correia on Thursday admitted 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.’
(Left to right) Vice President Mike Pence, Igor Fruman, Lev Parnas, President Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani
Correia is set to become the first conviction among four men charged last year with making illegal contributions to politicians they thought could aid their political and business interests. Pictured: Correia’s co-defendants Lev Parnas (left) and Igor Fruman (right)
His attorney William Harrington also noted that Correia ‘got very little of that money’ and was actually working on the project to get the company off the ground.
‘I do think it’s worth mentioning,’ Harrington said, adding that he didn’t want the wrong impression to get out prior to sentencing.
Correia also said he had lied to the FEC when he claimed a $325,000 donation to Trump super PAC America First Action had come from Global Energy Producers, which turned out to be a shell company.
Prosecutors said the funds had actually come from a mortgage taken out on a home owned by Igor Fruman.
Parnas and Correia hired Rudy Giuliani to consult with Fraud Guarantee. Giuliani (pictured with Parnas) has said he was promised $500,000 to work with the company
Correia said he knew that a declaration he filed in October 2018 contained ‘things that were probably false,’ but said he wanted to hasten the end of the agency’s investigation, ‘which I believed was unwarranted’.
The charge related to Fraud Guarantee was added to a broader criminal case against Parnas and Igor Fruman, who had also worked with Giuliani to try to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Giuliani has said he knew nothing about contributions. He has not been charged. Parnas and Fruman have pleaded not guilty.
As part of the plea, Correia agreed with the recommended three-year prison sentence, though his lawyer can argue for less.
He also agreed that he owes $2.3million in restitution and must forfeit $43,650.
Sentencing was set for February 8.
Correia, who owns a home with his wife in West Palm Beach, Florida, is the only American-born defendant in the case.