Accused Russian agent Butina poised to plead guilty: US court papers, Latest World News - The New Paper

Accused Russian agent Butina poised to plead guilty: US court papers

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON : Accused Russian agent Maria Butina, suspected of trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and influence US policy toward Russia, is expected to plead guilty this week following a deal between her lawyers and US prosecutors, according to court filings on Monday.

CNN reported on Monday that Butina had begun to cooperate with prosecutors, citing a source.

Butina, a former American University graduate student, had pleaded not guilty to charges in July that she was acting as an agent of the Russian government and conspiring to act on Russia's behalf.

Prosecutors have accused her of working with a Russian official and two US citizens to try to infiltrate the powerful gun lobby group that has close ties to Republican politicians including President Donald Trump, and influence Washington's policy towards Moscow.

Butina's lawyers identified the Russian official as Alexander Torshin, a deputy governor of Russia's central bank who was hit with US Treasury Department sanctions in April.

One of the two Americans mentioned in the prosecutors' criminal complaint was Paul Erickson, a conservative US political activist who was dating Butina. Neither Erickson nor Torshin has been accused of wrongdoing.

Butina was known to be a Trump supporter who bragged at parties in Washington that she could use her political connections to help get people jobs in the Trump administration.

The prosecutors in the case have made mistakes, including erroneously accusing Butina of offering sex in exchange for a position in a special interest group. This could have helped give her more leverage in reaching a plea deal. - REUTERS