Admitted Russian agent Maria Butina’s Republican operative boyfriend Paul Erickson was indicted on federal fraud and money laundering charges in South Dakota, The Daily Beast reported.
Erickson was indicted by a grand jury in South Dakota in a separate case from Butina’s Washington DC case.
Erickson, a 56-year-old longtime Republican operative, pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say Erickson ran a criminal scheme from 1996 to 2018 using a chain of assisted living homes. Prosecutors say he also defrauded investors through a company called Investing With Dignity, which said it was “in the business of developing a wheelchair that allowed people to go to the bathroom without being lifted out of the wheelchair.”
The indictment also says he ran a fraudulent scam that claimed to be building houses in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.
Erickson was deeply involved in Butina plot:
“Erickson, a well-known conservative operative who shuttled between D.C. and South Dakota, struck up a relationship with Butina, 29, in 2013,” The Daily Beast reported. “The couple, who lived together in South Dakota, had some kind of business together. They were listed as the sole officers of Bridges LLC, a company registered in the state in February 2016, though it’s unclear what it did or how it operated.”
“Throughout the Butina court documents, federal investigators mention a ‘U.S. Person 1’—an individual Butina worked with, dated and used to make connections with ‘an extensive network’ of right-wing political figures,” the report added. “That person, who documents say is closely tied to the National Rifle Association, is was largely believed to be Erickson.”
Erickson may face charges in DC:
Butina pleaded guilty to charges that she acted as a Russian agent while infiltrating the NRA and other conservative circles last year.
According to documents obtained by the FBI, Erickson was heavily involved in helping Butina’s plot.
“Unrelated to specific presidential campaigns,” Erickson wrote in October 2016 in an email to an acquaintance now in possession of the FBI, “I’ve been involved in securing a VERY private line of communication between the Kremlin and key [unnamed political party] leaders through, of all conduits, the [unnamed gun-rights organization].”
FBI investigators raided Erickson's South Dakota home and found a note in which he mused, “How to respond to FSB offer of employment?”