U.S. judge delays sentencing of admitted Russian agent Butina

By Sarah N. Lynch WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday agreed to delay the sentencing of Maria Butina, who has admitted to working as a Russian agent to infiltrate a gun rights group and make inroads with U.S. conservative activists and Republicans, at the request of a prosecutor who cited her ongoing cooperation.

Reuters February 27, 2019 04:06:33 IST
U.S. judge delays sentencing of admitted Russian agent Butina

US judge delays sentencing of admitted Russian agent Butina

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday agreed to delay the sentencing of Maria Butina, who has admitted to working as a Russian agent to infiltrate a gun rights group and make inroads with U.S. conservative activists and Republicans, at the request of a prosecutor who cited her ongoing cooperation.

Butina, 30, has been in custody since her arrest in July. She pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Russia.

Robert Driscoll, Butina's attorney, told U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in court on Tuesday his client is ready to be sentenced.

"From our perspective, we're ready to go," Driscoll said.

Erik Kenerson, the lead prosecutor, said the prosecution still needs Butina's cooperation in its ongoing probe, but did not elaborate.

Chutkan said she is sensitive to the defence's concerns, but agreed to postpone sentencing and hold a status hearing on March 28.

"Ms. Butina has been detained for a substantial portion of what she would likely face," Chutkan said. But, the judge added that "her cooperation continues to be needed by the government."

The group Butina admitted to trying to infiltrate is the National Rifle Association, which has close ties to Republicans including President Donald Trump.

The prosecution has indicated the involvement of others in the Butina case.

Paul Erickson, a conservative U.S. political activist with deep Republican ties who was romantically linked to Butina, was referred in court records in the case as "Person 1." Those records stated that "Person 1" helped advise Butina on which American politicians she should target for meetings.

Erickson is well-known in Republican circles and previously served as a senior official in Pat Buchanan's 1992 presidential campaign.

Federal prosecutors in South Dakota this month said Erickson was indicted on 11 counts of wire fraud and money laundering in charges unrelated to those brought against Butina. But Erickson's indictment did appear to make a reference to Butina when it said he made a payment of $8,000 to an "M.B." in June 2015 and another payment to "M.B." in March 2017.

The indictment said Erickson paid about $20,000 in June 2017 to American University in Washington, the school from which Butina obtained her master's degree.

William Hurd, an attorney for Erickson, declined to comment when asked about the prosecution's request to delay sentencing for Butina.

Alexander Torshin, who was a deputy governor of Russia's central bank and employed Butina as a translator and assistant, has been identified by her lawyers as a Russian official cited in court records. Torshin was hit with U.S. Treasury Department sanctions in April, but has not been charged in this case.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts
Business

Oil rises 2% as OPEC complies with production cuts

By Jessica Resnick-Ault NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices strengthened on Wednesday, as OPEC and its allies were seen complying with a pact to cut oil supply in September, even as concerns loomed that recovery in fuel demand will be stalled by soaring global coronavirus cases. Early in the day crude was boosted by a bullish stock market. Even as equities whipsawed on pandemic worries, oil stayed higher, buoyed by expectations that OPEC could staunch a supply glut

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000
Business

Tesla's back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000

By Tina Bellon and C Nivedita (Reuters) - Tesla Inc will further cut the price of its Model S "Long Range" sedan in the United States to $69,420, the electric carmaker's chief executive, Elon Musk, announced in a tweet https://bit.ly/2H0JCP0 on Wednesday. The anticipated drop marks the second time this week Tesla has cut the price for the high-end sedan, following a 4% cut of the Model S's price in the United States on Tuesday to $71,990.

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen
World

Trump cites teenaged son's bout with coronavirus in calling for schools to reopen

By Jeff Mason DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Under siege over his handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump on Wednesday cited what he said was his son's mild bout of the virus as a reason why American schools should reopen as soon as possible. Trump made the comment about his son, Barron, as the president swept into Iowa on a mission to shore up support in battleground states that he won in 2016 but is in danger of losing to Democrat Joe Biden barely three weeks before the election. First lady Melania Trump announced in a statement earlier in the day that the virus that struck both her and her husband had also infected their 14-year-old son