This whole thing gets more interesting all of the time.
Courtesy of The Daily Beast:
Paul Erickson, the American political operative and boyfriend of admitted Russian agent Maria Butina, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in South Dakota on charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
The U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota is handling the prosecution, which is separate from the case that was lodged against Butina in Washington, D.C.
Erickson, 56, was arrested on Tuesday and entered a plea of not guilty at an arraignment, according to the court filings. His attorney, Clint Sargent, said in a statement: “Mr. Erickson is anxious to let the criminal justice process play out and believes a story different from the Government’s will emerge.”
The indictment alleges that Erickson ran a criminal scheme from 1996 to 2018 using a chain of assisted living homes called Compass Care. Erickson also allegedly defrauded investors through a company called Investing with Dignity that claimed to be “in the business of developing a wheelchair that allowed people to go to the bathroom without being lifted out of the wheelchair.” The indictment says he also ran a fraudulent scheme that claimed to be building homes in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.
His arrest comes after several months of investigation by federal and state law enforcement officials, according to court documents and individuals with direct knowledge of the probe. Two individuals who spoke to The Daily Beast over the last five months said they were contacted by FBI agents about Erickson and his businesses.
Now you will probably notice that this indictment seems to have nothing to do with his Russian lover, however, there was also this little tidbit contained in this article:
Erickson, a well-known conservative operative who shuttled between D.C. and South Dakota, struck up a relationship with Butina, 29, in 2013. As The Daily Beast has reported, he dressed up as Rasputin to her flame-haired Empress Alexandra at a 2016 birthday party where vodka flowed through an ice sculpture of a bottle imprinted with the Soviet hammer and sickle.
The couple, who lived together in South Dakota, had some kind of business together. They were listed as the sole officers of Bridges LLC, a company registered in the state in February 2016, though it’s unclear what it did or how it operated.
Somehow I have the feeling that all of this is tied together, and that Erickson’s relationship with Butina, who plead guilty to conspiracy, is going to figure into his sentencing, or perhaps a future plea deal.
I think this case is one to keep an eye on.