GOP Operative Who Dated Maria Butina Sentenced To 7 Years In Prison For Fraud
The Argus Leader reports that Paul Erickson, was sentenced on July 6 to seven years of prison for defraudment charges. Although he is infamous for helping his former girlfriend Maria Butina make inroads with conservative political contacts, a woman who National Public Radio reports later confessed to being a clandestine agent of the Russian government, the fraud schemes were unrelated.
- Erickson, a Yale graduate who received his juris doctorate from the University of Virginia, has been prominent as a conservative political influencer since Ronald Reagan’s administration.
- Butina, who had portrayed herself as a guns rights activist, was deported in 2019 for failing to register as a foreign agent.
- The scrutiny Erickson received as a result of his connection to Butina led investigators to examine his business enterprises, which they discovered existed to defraud investors.
- For example, Erickson’s late 1990s venture Compass Care and his later Bakken Oil Fields venture defrauded numerous investors of their money.
- Clint Sargent, Erickson’s attorney, argued that Erickson was merely a victim of hubris and overconfidence whose business plans had failed. Erickson admitted that his “moral judgment failed” in what was otherwise a routine business venture and that he had failed his investors and his faith.
- Assistant United States Attorney Jeff Clapper, however, argued that Erickson had evolved over the years into a fraudster who “went from one fraudulent scheme to another.”
- Judge Karen Schreier ultimately agreed with Clapper. She noted that the “report is just replete with victims,” and she rebuked Erickson, saying, “You’re a thief, and you have betrayed your friends and family, pretty much everyone you know.”
- Sargent also moved for Erickson to be confined at home, rather than in prison, on the grounds that a recent heart valve replacement left him more vulnerable to developing severe symptoms if he contracted COVID-19.
- Clapper countered that the Bureau of Prisons was capable of appropriately screening and protecting inmates.
- Schreier decided to rule in Clapper’s favor. She said that she entered the courthouse at the same time as Erickson and that “He walked in without a mask.” If he was sincerely concerned about his health, Schreier posited, he would have worn a mask in public.
- Although the prosecution recommended a sentencing range between thirty-three and forty-one months, Schreier sentenced Erickson to eighty-four months in prison, or about seven years. She cited the Tobias Ritesman and Tim Burns cases: Ritesman and Burns had defrauded less money than Erickson and yet received 108-month and 57-month prison sentences respectively.