Paul Erickson, the Vermillion native linked to a Russian woman who is in prison for being a secret agent, is now facing federal charges. Erickson is accused of bilking investors out of $1.2 million.
KELOLAND Investigates learned that Erickson was back in Sioux Falls in recent weeks. Now we know that he has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 11 counts of wire fraud and money laundering.
These charges do not appear to be related to Erickson’s company that he started with Maria Butina in South Dakota called Bridges LLC.
According to the feds, from 1996 to August of 2018, Erickson allegedly schemed to defraud money from many victims while operating “Compass Care” and “Investing with Dignity.” Erickson is accused of lying to people in South Dakota and elsewhere to get investors for those companies and to also give him money for developing land in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota. He’s accused of keeping all the money for himself instead.
KELOLAND News stopped by Erickson’s Sioux Falls Compass Care office in December of 2017, but no one was there and people in neighboring offices only saw him about once a month.
According to an annual report on file, Compass Care is a senior living housing development and operation. KELOLAND Investigates did find several judgments against Compass Care from 2003 and 2004 adding up to more than $150,000.
According to newly-filed federal court documents, Erickson made false claims to investors, including that Compass Care staff had 90 years of operating experience, oversaw 27,000 nursing homes in 26 states and that a Compass Care facility generated more than $1.7 million in annual gross revenue.
Court papers say Erickson told investors that Investing with Dignity was a company that designed and produced wheelchairs. He allegedly promised investors they would double or triple their original investment in a year or less.
Federal prosecutors say the Bakken oil fields venture was a separate scheme devised by Erickson. He told investors he was buying real estate and building single family residents.
Butina reportedly spoke to investigators about Erickson in December of 2018.
We’ve tried repeatedly to talk with Erickson over the past year. The only time we got through to him was over his apartment intercom.
KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke asked Erickson about reports that he was trying to arrange a meeting between then presidential candidate, Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during in May of 2016.
While this federal indictment is related to Erickson as a businessman, there are no updates with the ongoing federal investigations into his political activity.
Erickson is believed to be “U.S. Person 1” in court documents related to the Butina federal investigation. Those documents say “U.S. Person 1” was used to help Butina make connections with right-wing politicians.
Erickson appeared in court on Wednesday on the fraud and money laundering charges. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bond.