SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Paul Erickson, a former conservative operative once romantically linked to Russian agent Maria Butina who was convicted in investment schemes, has been pardoned by President Donald Trump as part of a flurry of clemency action in the final hours of his White House term.
A White House statement early Wednesday said that Erickson’s conviction “was based off the Russian collusion hoax,” even though Erickson was convicted in schemes that had nothing to do with Butina or Russia. Butina was deported in 2019 after serving time for failing to register as a foreign agent.
Erickson, of Sioux Falls, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2020 for defrauding investors in a proposal to develop land in the North Dakota Bakken oil field by persuading people to buy real estate and build single-family homes.
Erickson was among six people from South Dakota who received pardons from Trump.
Gregory and Deborah Jorgensen, of Winner, were granted pardons and Martin Jorgensen was given a posthumous pardon. The Jorgensens were convicted in 1996 for selling misbranded beef under their premium label, but knowing that it was mixed with “inferior, commercial beef trim.”
The family has an “exemplary record of service to their community,” the White House said.
Trump also pardoned Jessica Frease, of Rapid City, who was convicted of converting stolen checks at the bank where she worked as a teller and John Nystrom, of Pierre, who was working as a contractor on a school reconstruction project when a subcontractor received double payments for work performed.