SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A South Dakota man who was linked to a Russian agent is sentenced to seven years in federal court. 

A judge issued the sentence to conservative political operative Paul Erickson Monday morning.  Erickson pleaded guilty in federal court in November 2019 to wire fraud and money laundering.

Erickson admitted to fraudulent investment schemes involving a bogus housing project in the Baaken oil fields in North Dakota that prosecutors said bilked investors of more than a million dollars.

Erickson asked the court for home confinement instead of prison time. Erickson cited a heart defect that required surgery, putting him at greater risk for COVID-19.

According to court documents, Erickson also cited a study that showed “almost 80 percent of coronavirus patients were bald.”

However, U.S. District Court Judge for South Dakota, Karen Schreier handed down the seven-year sentence for wire fraud and money laundering for the bogus investment project.

KELOLAND Investigates first spoke with Erickson over an apartment intercom for our investigation into the KELOLAND Kremlin Connection in 2017.

Erickson’s former girlfriend, Maria Butina, was deported to her native Russia, after admitting that she sought to infiltrate conservative political groups to promote Russia’s agenda. Erickson and Butina had set up a limited liability corporation in South Dakota.

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.

Following Erickson’s sentencing in Sioux Falls for the investor case on Monday, Erickson refused to leave the courthouse lobby.

After waiting outside for two hours, KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke went in to ask him for an interview.

He said he would be issuing a statement on Tuesday.