Butina Shouldn't Serve Any More Time in Prison, Her Lawyers Say
(Bloomberg) -- Maria Butina, who faces an April 26 sentencing after pleading guilty to being an unregistered Russian agent operating in the U.S., should be released without spending more time in prison, her lawyers told a federal judge.
Attorneys for the 30-year-old Russian told U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington on Friday that she has spent more than nine months in detention and cooperated before and after her arrest and guilty plea. She should be sentenced to time served along with an order sending her back home to her family, according to a filing Friday in federal court in Washington.
Butina arrived in Washington as an American University student in 2016 and made inroads with Republican Party figures, including Scott Walker, at the time the governor of Wisconsin, and officials at the National Rifle Association. She asked a question of then-candidate Donald Trump at a conference.
She has been in federal custody since July when she was indicted for conspiring to establish a back channel between Russians and American politicians. The filing explains her romantic relationship with Paul Erickson, a lawyer who’s been involved in several Republican presidential campaigns and has strong ties to the NRA.
Butina’s “motivations weren’t nefarious,” her lawyers wrote in the filing, explaining that her goal was to improve relations between the U.S. and Russia. Butina acknowledged her failed duty to report to the U.S. her association with Aleksander Torshin, a former Russian Central Bank deputy governor and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who now is under U.S. government sanctions. Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent.
“Despite Maria’s well-meant intentions, she has confessed to her crime,” according to the filing. “Her activities with Torshin triggered a duty to notify the Attorney General. This law exists for a reason: so the Unites States government knows the identities of those who are acting on behalf of foreign governments or officials, whether the actions are legal or not, and Maria failed to provide the requisite notice. For this, she is remorseful.”
The case is U.S. v. Butina, 18-cr-218, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
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