Maria Butina, alleged Russian spy, sentenced for conspiracy

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WASHINGTON – Russian national and alleged spy Maria Butina was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday after she pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge related to attempts to infiltrate and influence American conservative organizations.

Judge Tanya Chutkan handed down the sentence in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Butina entered the plea in December and agreed to cooperate with the government. Chutkan ordered that the nine months Butina has already spent in jail be credited toward her sentence.

The case was part of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Butina, 30, is alleged to have conspired with Russia’s deputy Central Bank governor, Alexander Torshin, to serve as an unofficial conduit between Moscow and U.S. power brokers.

Her influence campaign is alleged to have centered around a plot to build contacts with members of the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association.

Butina presented herself as a pro-gun activist at the 2015 NRA convention. She is alleged to have hosted lavish dinners with influential parties present and to have invited NRA members to a conference in Moscow.

Butina has said she was assisted in the campaign by her boyfriend, Paul Erickson, a Republican political operative. Erickson has not been charged in the case.

However, Erickson has been charged with money laundering and wire fraud in a South Dakota case. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News