Russian Spy Boyfriend, Sioux Falls Man Indicted on Wire Fraud
The boyfriend of a Russian woman who admitted she was a secret agent for the Kremlin has been charged with fraud in South Dakota, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Businessman and conservative political operative Paul Erickson, 56, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 11 counts of wire fraud and money laundering, a day after he was indicted, according to the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s Office. He faces up to 20 years in prison for each count. The charges appear unrelated to the case of Maria Butina, 30, who pleaded guilty in December for trying to infiltrate conservative political groups.
Prosecutors said Erickson defrauded “many victims” from 1996 through August 2018.
The indictment accuses Erickson of concocting a variety of schemes to carry out well over $1 million in fraudulent transactions 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.
Before his indictment Erickson was caught up in Butina’s high-profile case which was separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
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