South Dakota man linked to Butina pleads guilty to fraud

KELO Erickson, Paul and Maria Butina

Paul Erickson & Maria Butina

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A South Dakota man who was linked to a Russian agent has pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud and money laundering.

Conservative political operative Paul Erickson admitted Tuesday to a federal judge in Sioux Falls to fraudulent investment schemes that prosecutors said bilked investors of more than a million dollars.

Erickson’s onetime girlfriend is Maria Butina, who was deported last month to her native Russia after admitting that she sought to infiltrate conservative political groups to promote that country’s agenda.

Court documents indicated Erickson admitted sending some of that money to a person listed only as “M.B.” Erickson ignored a reporter who asked whether that was Butina.

Erickson will be sentenced in March. Federal prosecutors have indicated they will seek prison time.

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