Article: South Dakota man linked to Russian spy sentenced for fraud

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Investigations Newsletter: Russian National Sentenced to Prison for $100 Million Cyber Fraud Conspiracy

Associated Press, 13 August 2020

A former conservative operative who was once romantically linked to a Russian agent was sentenced Monday to seven years in federal prison in South Dakota.

Paul Erickson pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering as part of fraudulent investment schemes he operated for many years, the Argus Leader reported.

Erickson was not charged in connection to his romantic relationship with Maria Butina, who was deported in October after admitting she sought to infiltrate conservative U.S. political groups and promote Russia’s agenda. He came under the scrutiny of federal investigators who were monitoring Butina but her role in his downfall did not come up in court.

Prosecutors said Erickson concocted multiple investment schemes from 1996 to August 2018, including recruiting investors for a string of elder care homes; developing a wheelchair that allowed a person to use the bathroom from the chair; and home-building in North Dakota’s booming oil fields. He operated his schemes from Sioux Falls, defrauding $5.3 million from investors.

Judge Karen Schreier listed former classmates, family members and even Erickson’s godmother as victims of his investment schemes.

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