Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Paul Erickson, boyfriend of alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, indicted on fraud charges


Paul Erickson, a Republican operative who dated a woman accused of spying on the U.S. on behalf of Russia, was indicted on federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering

Erickson was indicted on Tuesday in South Dakota in what prosecutors described as a two-decades-long scheme to attract investors then use the cash to enrich himself. 

He pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 11 counts and was released on bond.

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Erickson, 56, made headlines due to his relationship with Maria Butina, who was arrested last year and accused of failing to register as a foreign agent for Russia.

Butina admitted in December to conspiring to act as an agent for the Kremlin without registering in the United States. 

Butina pleaded guilty to attempting to infiltrate political groups on behalf of the Kremlin, including the National Rifle Association, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

Erickson’s case, filed in South Dakota, does not appear directly related to Butina or the criminal charges filed against her in Washington. 

The indictment alleges Erickson, from 1996 to 2018, used three businesses to attract investors: Compass Care, Inc., a senior care business, Dignity, LLC, a wheelchair venture, and a third unnamed business to develop land for single-family homes. 

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Federal prosecutors alleged all three ventures were “part of a scheme and artifice to defraud” where Erickson made false statements about the companies and how much others would make in return for investments, the indictment states. 

The indictment outlines hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments that Erickson then wired to his account and used for himself. 

It also lays out withdrawals he made and various payments he made to both individuals and organizations. 

Though Butina is not mentioned in the indictment, prosecutors detailed several payments he made to someone with the initials M.B. and a $20,000 payment he made to American University, where Butina attended before her arrest.

The Argus Leader reported last summer that Erickson had been accused by various associates of cheating them out of money. One of those ventures was Compass Care, which Erickson promoted as a Christian nursing home company.


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