February 6, 2019

Conservative political operative and former Trump transition official, Paul Erickson, was indicted by a federal grand jury on a litany of charges, including wire fraud and money laundering, reports the Daily Beast. Oh, and if his name sounds familiar it is because he was also the boyfriend of Russian spy Maria Butina.

It is alleged that Butina and Erickson tried to build a (maybe succcessful?) back channel between Russia and the Trump campaign, but that is not what these charges are about. This indictment is pretty cut and dry: Erickson was charged with defrauding investors in South Dakota by pitching them health care business opportunities. He took money from investors but lied to them about how he was going to use it.

His attorney spit out the standard defense lawyer sentence right after the initial hearing today: “Mr. Erickson is anxious to let the criminal justice process play out and believes a story different from the Government’s will emerge."

Details of the indictment, per the Daily Beast, are that Erickson operated a criminal scheme from 1996 to 2018 using a chain of assisted living homes called Compass Care to defraud investors by encouraging them to invest in a company called Dignity that claimed to be “in the business of developing a wheelchair that allowed people to go to the bathroom without being lifted out of the wheelchair.” He also was charged with running a scheme claiming that he was building homes in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.

The Daily Beast also reports that Erickson failed to repay loans to various individuals and that he lied about fake companies to encourage people to invest in them - reminds me of the Arrested Development episode from season 2 where they literally built a fake house to trick the investors and the board of directors.

Literally the Daily Beast reported last July that Erickson "duped" people into investing in nonexistent companies. Oh, and he allegedly used money for personal expenses.

But did he buy a painting of himself and use money donated to a charity? Or did he steal from a cancer charity? THAT stuff is Presidential.

For the record, Erickson pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence.

Watch Rachel Maddow explain the charges and the mystery withdrawals from his "business accounts" which tie to specific moments in his relationship with Butina above.

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