Maria Butina, Unregistered Russian Agent, to Be Sentenced April 26
(Bloomberg) -- Maria Butina, the Russian who enrolled as an American University student and then made political inroads with Republican Party figures and the National Rifle Association, will be sentenced on April 26 for acting as unregistered agent of the Kremlin, a judge said.
The development signals that Butina’s cooperation with prosecutors is nearing its end. In February prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington to delay sentencing because she was still cooperating in their investigation. On Thursday, Chutkan also said that legal briefs are due in mid-April.
Butina, 30, was indicted last year on a single count of conspiring against the U.S. government and has been in federal custody since July. Her detention became a cause celebre for the Russian government, which placed her photograph on its Foreign Ministry’s Twitter feed with the hashtag #FreeMariaButina.
While in the U.S. starting in 2015, Butina worked to advance the Kremlin’s interests, reporting regularly to a senior Russian official, according to her December guilty plea. The charge against her was filed by the U.S. Justice Department’s national security unit and federal prosecutors in Washington, not by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was simultaneously investigating Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Defense lawyers have emphasized that she attended American University in Washington to argue that she came to the U.S. to advance her education.
Butina’s former boyfriend, Republican political operative Paul Erickson, was indicted in February by a U.S. grand jury on wire fraud and money laundering charges.
The case is U.S. v. Butina, 18-cr-218, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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