Lawyer: Accused Russian Agent Knows Little Of SD Fraud Case

KELO Maria Butina

An attorney for a woman suspected of being a covert Russian agent says he’s confident she’s not “aware of or guilty of any crimes” in South Dakota as authorities have pursued an unrelated fraud investigation into her boyfriend.

Attorney Robert Driscoll said Wednesday that 29-year-old Maria Butina knew “very little” about the fraud case led by the U.S. Attorney’s office in South Dakota. Butina has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Russia.

Prosecutors have accused her of using a personal relationship with an unnamed political operative – identified only as 56-year-old “U.S. Person 1” – as part of her covert activities for Russia. Driscoll says he’s operating under the idea that person is South Dakota businessman Paul Erickson.

Erickson hasn’t returned telephone messages seeking comment.

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