President Trump pardons SD man tied to Russian operative, convicted of fraud and money laundering


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — During his last day in office, President Trump has pardoned a South Dakota man linked to a Russian agent.

In July, Paul Erickson was sentenced to seven years in federal court. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in November 2019. Erickson promised investors returns of up to 150% while spending the money on personal expenses for Maria Butina, his former girlfriend. Erickson bilked investors to the tune of $1.2 million.

Butina was deported in October 2019 to Russia after admitting that she sought to infiltrate conservative political groups to promote that country’s agenda.

“Mr. Erickson’s conviction was based off the Russian collusion hoax. After finding no grounds to charge him with any crimes with respect to connections with Russia, he was charged with a minor financial crime. Although the Department of Justice sought a lesser sentence, Mr. Erickson was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment—nearly double the Department of Justice’s recommended maximum sentence. This pardon helps right the wrongs of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American History. “

Statement from the White House on Paul Erickson’s pardon supported by KellyAnne Conway

Three other presidential pardons have been issued to South Dakotans after they were advocated for by Governor Kristi Noem. President Trump issued pardons to John Nystrom; Gregory, Deborah, and Martin Jorgensen–who was pardoned posthumously; and Jessica “Jessi” Frease.

In a statement provided by Governor Noem’s office, the Governor thanked the President for the pardons.

“I am tremendously thankful to President Trump for his support of these three pardons,” Gov. Noem said in the statement. “The Trump administration has done an excellent job balancing justice with forgiveness, and tonight’s pardons will provide these individuals with a second chance to continue as productive members of our South Dakota community.”

In a Tweet Wednesday morning, the governor’s communications director, Ian Fury, said “Governor Noem did not advocate for Erickson’s pardon.”

To see the full list of pardons issued by President Trump, click here.

Stay with KELOLAND News on-air and online for more updates on this story.

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