SIOUX FALLS—30 year old Russian secret agent Maria Butina’s 57 year old American boyfriend Paul Erickson was indicted today. Erickson is an attorney and GOP operative known for his connections to the NRA. Butina, who is currently being held in federal prison, met Erickson in Russia in 2013 and started an intimate relationship with him.
In 2011, Butina created Right to Bear Arms, a Russian gun-rights group. Butina testified to congress that the group was funded by Russian billionaire Konstantin Nikolaev.
After creating the group. Butina traveled to the US with Aleksandr Torshin then-Senator of the Federation Council of Russia. Torshin went on to become the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Russia. Butina worked for Torshin until May 2017.
By 2015, Butina began describing to Erickson her plan to help Republicans win the 2016 US presidential election. Butina moved to America in 2016 on a student visa and studied International Relations at American University in Washington, D.C.
While in America, Butina continued to live and have sex with Erickson in order to advance Russian interests. In 2016, Butina and Erickson formed Bridges LLC, a South Dakota company. Erickson claimed the company was used to provide financial assistance for Butina’s education.
Erickson attempted to create a back-channel between the Russian Federaiton and the NRA in order to support Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The NRA reportedly spent up to $70 million dollars during the campaign (three times the amount the NRA had spent during the 2012 election).
Erickson purportedly even sent an email to another Trump campaign official requesting Trump meet with Putin during an NRA convention.
Federal grand jury charges Erickson with wire fraud and 10 counts of money laundering
After Trump was elected, Erickson became an advisor on the Trump Transition Team.
Butina was arrested last summer and has since plead guilty on charges that she had been acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian Federation. Butina admitted to engaging in the conspiracy against the US with Torshin and Erickson.
Today’s indictment, however, does not mention Bridges, LLC but instead discusses various other entities created by Erickson and used to defraud investors over the last twenty years.
The indictment alleges Erickson ran several investment schemes for over the last twenty years. Erickson allegedly created several business entities purporting to be ventures into oil discovery, the development of nursing homes, a wheelchair business, and real estate.
The indictment provides a list of 22 wire or check transfers from investors to Erickson dating over the past ten years—some of them which may be related to laundering Russian money.
Who is CB, DG, HH, JG, KB, LW, MB, MJ, MS, MW, RD, VT, and WR?
The indictment reveals 13 individuals, named by their initials only, had either deposited money into Erickson’s bank accounts at Wells Fargo and Home Federal of South Dakota.
Erickson also made payments to some of these individuals including Some of these individuals, including Erickson’s accounts were also used to pay some of these individuals, including HH, KB, LW, MB, MS, and WR.
In June 2015, Erickson transferred $8,000 to “M.B.” (i.e. probably Maria Butina). In June 2017, Erickson paid $20,472 to American University, where Butina had been attending her masters program coursework in International
Here are all the transactions listed in the indictment (rearranged in chronological order):
10/07/14 – $50,000 to H.H. (laundering count 2)
10/08/14 – $10,000 to H.H. (laundering count 3)
01/12/15 – $25,000 wire from C.B. (wire fraud count 1)
04/14/15 – $25,000 check from L.W. (wire fraud count 1)
04/23/15 – $25,000 check from L.W. (wire fraud count 1)
06/24/15 – $ 8,000 to M.B. (laundering count 4)
07/08/15 – $25,000 to K.B. (laundering count 5)
10/14/15 – $10,000 to L.W. (laundering count 6)
12/11/15 – $14,000 to himself (cash) (laundering count 9) (around the time Erickson travels to Moscow for the NRA)
05/09/16 – $25,000 wire from M.S. (wire fraud count 1)
03/01/17 – $100,000 wire from D.G. (wire fraud count 1)
03/01/17 – $25,000 to M.S. (laundering count 7)
03/01/17 – $ 1,000 to M.B. (laundering count 8)
05/31/17 – $100,000 wire from J.G. (wire fraud count 1)
06/01/17 – $20,472.09 wire to American University (laundering count 10)
06/07/17 – $25,000 wire to W.R. (laundering count 11)
Earlier this evening, Erickson’s initial appearance and arraignment on the indictment was held by videophone. Erickson plead not guilty. The court entered an order setting conditions of Erickson’s release pending trial.