What to Know
A Florida man wanted in a campaign finance case involving associates of Rudy Giuliani is in federal custody
David Correia was taken into custody by FBI agents Wednesday morning after getting off a flight at JFK airport, officials said
Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, says he had no knowledge of illegal donations
A Florida man wanted in a campaign finance case involving associates of Rudy Giuliani is in federal custody.
Spokespersons for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan and the FBI confirm that David Correia was arrested after flying Wednesday to JFK Airport in New York City to turn himself in.
Correia, 44, was named in an indictment with two Giuliani associates and another man arrested last week on charges they made illegal contributions to a congressman and a political action committee supporting President Donald Trump. The two associates were arrested last week. Andrey Kukushkin, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, was also charged in the case. Kukushkin was arrested last week in San Francisco.
Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer, says he had no knowledge of illegal donations.
Prosecutors said Correia, who owns a home with his wife in West Palm Beach, was part of efforts by co-defendants Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to leverage outsized political donations to Republican candidates and committees as part of an effort to advance their business interests.
Both Parnas and Fruman have a history of business dealings with Giuliani. Prosecutors said that, among other things, the pair made campaign contributions with the intent of lobbying U.S. politicians to oust the country's ambassador to Ukraine. At the time, Giuliani was trying to get Ukrainian officials to investigate the son of Trump's potential Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
Correia is accused of conspiring with the other defendants to make political donations to local and federal politicians in New York, Nevada and other states with the aim of trying to get support for a new recreational marijuana business.
He had a brief appearance in front of a judge on Wednesday, and was released on $250,000 bond. Correia and Kukushkin are expected back in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday. A lawyer for Correia is not yet listed in court records.
The other two defendants, Parnas and Fruman, had their hearing pushed to next week after initially scheduled to appear on the same day. Parnas was released on bond on Wednesday, while Fruman remains behind bars for now.
Correia is listed as the registered agent for a Florida corporation tied to a series of wire transfers prosecutors allege was part of an elaborate effort to hide the true source of funds used to make the donations.
He posed with then-Rep. Pete Sessions in a May 2018 photo taken inside the Texas Republican's Capitol Hill office that Parnas posted on social media with the caption "Hard at work !!"
Later that same day, Sessions sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seeking Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch's dismissal because he had "notice of concrete evidence" that she had "spoken privately and repeatedly about her disdain for the current Administration."
Several senior U.S. law enforcement officials told NBC News Sessions is the lawmaker identified in court documents as "Congressman-1." Donations described in the indictment also match campaign finance reports for Sessions, a Texas Republican who lost his re-election bid in November 2018.
Sessions, 64, has denied wrongdoing. But the federal indictment alleges "Congressman 1" was part of what prosecutors described as a coordinated effort to remove Yovanovitch at the behest of an unnamed Ukrainian official.
Sessions, who has been weighing a political comeback, now finds himself entangled in the impeachment investigation centered on President Trump's dealings with Ukraine as well as Giuliani's relationships in the former Soviet republic.
NBC New York Investigative producer Joe Valiquette contributed to this report.