Maria Butina, the Russian woman prosecuted for participating in a conspiracy for Russia to gain political influence in the US will be sentenced in late April, a federal judge said on Thursday.
Butina, who pleaded guilty to one criminal charge in December, has been jailed for 8-and-a-half months as she cooperates in a related investigation. Her sentencing will take place April 26.
A prosecutor said in court on Thursday – after holding up her sentencing date several times because of her cooperation – that the DC US Attorney’s Office is ready to get her sentenced.
Butina was in court for the brief 10-minute hearing, and appeared to have gotten used to how the court proceedings go – giving thumbs up to court staff during a short sealed portion of the hearing affirming she could hear what her attorney was saying.
As part of her plea agreement, prosecutors and her attorneys agreed that her detention of up to six months would be a reasonable sentence, so it’s possible she will receive time served then be deported to Russia.
“We’re happy to see the process move forward,” Butina’s attorney Robert Driscoll told reporters, adding that Butina is “doing well” and they have not decided if she will speak on her own behalf at her sentencing hearing.
Driscoll said her legal team will push for time served.
“That’s what we’ll argue for but obviously it’s in the judge’s hands,” Driscoll said.
Though it came at the height of speculation around special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Butina’s case appears to have little connection to the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, with one exception. Mueller’s team briefly questioned her this year about interactions she had with a former Trump campaign aide and about her knowledge of a platform change at the Republican National Convention in 2016, CNN previously reported.
Butina’s sentencing has been on hold because she has cooperated with prosecutors on a different case – one that prosecutors in DC have been building against her boyfriend, political operative Paul Erickson. Erickson has already been charged by federal prosecutors in South Dakota for alleged money laundering and wire fraud and pleaded not guilty.