Tag Archives: accused

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to attempting to sway US policy

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to attempting to sway US policyA Russian woman has admitted to acting as an agent for the Kremlin to get close to the Republican party in an effort to influence US policies.  Maria Butina, 30, pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy in a court in Washington on Thursday, admitting to working under the direction of a top Russian official to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful gun rights group closely aligned with senior Republican politicians. She is the first Russian citizen to be convicted of working to shape US policy in the run up and through the 2016 election campaign, agreeing to co-operate with prosecutors for less prison time. Appearing before Judge Tanya Chutkan, she admitted to conspiring to work with Alexander Torshin, a former deputy governor of Russia's central bank, and two US citizens as a Russian agent from 2015 until her 2018 arrest.  Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington who publicly advocated for gun rights, was arrested in July and has been held in jail without bail ever since.  Maria Butina was said to be directed by Alexander Torshin, previously described as Vladimir Putin's "emissary" Credit: AP She initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against her but in the last week it was revealed she had reversed course and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors.   Her aim was to make contacts with officials at the NRA, conservative figures and 2016 presidential candidates in order to set up unofficial back channels with high-ranking American politicians. Butina is known to have met with the president's son, Donald Trump Jnr, during one of the NRA's conventions as well as reportedly hosting a party in Washington attended by Trump campaign aides in November 2016. Prosecutors told the court that Butina drafted a March 2015 "Diplomacy Project" that called for establishing unofficial channels of communication between high-ranking American politicians in order to help advance Russia's interests. In this courtroom sketch, Maria Butina, left, is shown next to her attorney Robert Driscoll Credit: AP To carry out the plan, Butina requested $ 125,000 (£98,000) from a Russian billionaire to attend conferences and set up "separate meetings with interested parties" such as other Russian businessmen or people with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they added. The prosecutors said Butina invited "powerful members" of the NRA for a visit to Moscow where they met with high-level Russian officials. Apparent photos of the NRA Moscow trip are posted on her social media accounts. After the visit, according to court records, she sent a Russian official a message apparently referencing the NRA saying, "We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later." The alleged Russian agent was arrested in July Credit: Reuters Butina also hosted "friendship dinners" in the hope of establishing ties with people who "would have the ear of the next US presidential administration," prosecutors said. After the 2016 election, she proposed creating a dialogue with President Donald Trump's advisors, but the Russian official told her he did not think the foreign affairs ministry would "go for it," prosecutors said. The actions occurred during the same time period that US intelligence agencies have concluded Russia engaged in a campaign of propaganda and hacking to sow discord during the 2016 presidential race and boost Mr Trump's chances against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Butina was a gun rights activist Butina's lawyers previously identified the Russian official as Alexander Torshin, who was a deputy governor of Russia's central bank and was targeted with US Treasury Department sanctions in April.  One of the two Americans referenced in the prosecution's case was Paul Erickson, an conservative political activist who was romantically linked to Butina. His lawyer William Hurd said: "Paul Erickson is a good American. He has done nothing to harm our country and never would." Russian officials hit back at the case, calling it a "modern political inquisition" in comments quoted by the RIA state news agency. She faces a maximum of five years in prison and deportation. As part of her agreement prosecutors dropped a second charge of violating a law that requires foreigners working for their government to register with the US Justice Department. Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, estimated that under sentencing guidelines for similar crimes Butina could face up to six months in prison.  Because of Butina's ongoing co-operation, the judge did not set a sentencing date but scheduled a hearing for February 12.  



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Former Baylor fraternity president accused of rape is banned from graduation, University of Texas campus

Former Baylor fraternity president accused of rape is banned from graduation, University of Texas campusJacob Anderson, accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old student, has been banned from University of Texas at Dallas, but will receive a degree.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Two nuns accused of stealing thousands of dollars, gambling in Las Vegas

Two nuns accused of stealing thousands of dollars, gambling in Las VegasThe Archdiocese of Los Angeles said two nuns allegedly stole thousands of dollars from a Catholic school to fund trips to Las Vegas.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Two nuns accused of stealing thousands of dollars, gambling in Las Vegas

Two nuns accused of stealing thousands of dollars, gambling in Las VegasThe Archdiocese of Los Angeles said two nuns allegedly stole thousands of dollars from a Catholic school to fund trips to Las Vegas.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Reports: Accused Russian agent Maria Butina ready to plead guilty and cooperate with U.S. prosecutors

Reports: Accused Russian agent Maria Butina ready to plead guilty and cooperate with U.S. prosecutorsMaria Butina, the Russian national charged with acting as an agent for her country, will plead guilty to conspiracy, according to ABC News and CNN



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Former Frat President Accused Of Drugging And Raping Woman Fined $400 And Set Free

Former Frat President Accused Of Drugging And Raping Woman Fined $  400 And Set FreeA former fraternity president at Baylor University walked away with a fine and



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Accused Russian Agent Maria Butina Reaches Plea Deal With Federal Prosecutors: Reports

Accused Russian Agent Maria Butina Reaches Plea Deal With Federal Prosecutors: ReportsMaria Butina, a Russian gun-rights activist accused of working as an agent for



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

2 Nuns Accused Of Embezzling $500,000 From Catholic School

2 Nuns Accused Of Embezzling $  500,000 From Catholic SchoolTwo Roman Catholic nuns have admitted to embezzling $ 500,000 from a parochial



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Grace Millane: Man accused over backpacker murder appears in court as PM apologises on behalf of New Zealand for her death

Grace Millane: Man accused over backpacker murder appears in court as PM apologises on behalf of New Zealand for her deathThe man accused of killing British backpacker Grace Millane was jeered as he appeared in a packed Auckland court on Monday. Ms Millane, 22, died while travelling in New Zealand and her body was found in bushland on Sunday afternoon, about 30 feet from a highway outside the New Zealand city. The 26-year-old accused, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared in a blue boiler suit as he attended Auckland's District Court on Monday morning. Ms Millane, from Essex, was last seen alive entering the CityLife Hotel with the man last Saturday at 9.41pm. The defendant was listed on a charge sheet as residing at the hotel on Queen Street in central Auckland. In his opening remarks Judge Evangelos Thomas addressed members of Millane's family, some of whom were in attendance. Her father, David Millane, arrived in New Zealand last Friday following his daughter's disappearance. “Your grief must be desperate,” Judge Thomas told the family in court, where every seat was taken by the public and the international and local media. “All of us hope that justice for Grace is fair and swift and ultimately brings you some peace.”  As the defendant was led out of the court, a man at the back of the court yelled out “scumbag”. Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became became visibly upset as she apologised to Ms Millane's family at her weekly post-cabinet news conference.  ‘Your daughter should have been safe here’ – PM Jacinda Ardern fighting back tears as she apologies on behalf of NZ for the death of Grace Millane ⁦@NewshubPolitics⁩ pic.twitter.com/WqnsM3IgMm— Tova O'Brien (@TovaOBrien) December 10, 2018 "On behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologise to Grace's family," Ms Ardern told a weekly news conference in parliament. Ms Ardern said she could not imagine the grief that her family would be going through, according to Radio New Zealand.  “Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn't and I'm sorry for that.” Ms Ardern told the family through police that the government would offer any assistance it could. Judge Evangelos Thomas speaks as a man accused of Grace Millane's murder appears in court in Auckland Credit: Getty Judge Thomas rejected an application from the accused's lawyer for his client's name to be suppressed based on fair trial rights. However, the decision was immediately appealed, meaning the accused's name will not be released for at least 20 working days until the appeal is determined. The accused looked at the judge for most of the 90 minutes he was in court, nodding that he understood when spoken to, his eyes only occasionally flicking towards the cameras on the other side of the court. The defendant's next appearance will be in the High Court on January 23. Accused 'was estranged from family' The accused was reportedly estranged from his family after his parents separated, according to his grandfather.  NZ media organisation Stuff reported that the grandfather, who said he'd helped raise him for a period after his parents separated, was struggling to come to terms with what his grandson had been accused of.  “He was a nice kid, but he sort of fell out with everybody, which is what happens with broken-up marriages.”  He was worried about how the allegations would affect the wider family but declined to comment further.  A female relative of the accused told Stuff he'd spent time living in Australia, where his mother lived, but she was unaware he'd returned.  His paternal grandmother told Stuff that while living in Australia the man fathered a daughter but was no longer in a relationship with the mother.  Stuff said the accused's father hadn't spoken to his son for two years, citing: “A difference in opinion on life.” Emotional tributes from family Police have yet to reveal how the pair met or the possible motive for the alleged murder. Security footage at the hotel, along with a scene investigation at a room there, confirmed that Ms Millane was dead.   Detective Inspector Scott Beard said the body was found near Scenic Drive, which leads through the Waitakere Ranges, a popular parkland west of Auckland. Grace Millane was on a year-long round-the-world trip “This brings the search for Grace to an end,” said Detective Beard, who was visibly emotional delivering the news of the discovery. “It is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them.” Ms Millane's family have described her as “lovely, outgoing, fun-loving and family-orientated”. Her brother Declan paid public tribute on social media with a series of photographs of Ms Millane smiling, celebrating, graduating and, as a little girl, hugging her sibling. He also wrote the lyrics to the song "you are my sunshine, my only sunshine" underneath pictures of the pair together.   View this post on Instagram ��♥️You are my sunshine, my only sunshine You make me happy when skies are gray You'll never know, dear, how much I love you Please don't take my sunshine away A post shared by Declan Millane (@declan_millane) on Dec 9, 2018 at 2:16am PST Ms Millane, who completed a degree in advertising and marketing at Lincoln University, was on a yearlong trip and arrived in New Zealand on November 20 after a four-week group tour to Peru. Her family raised concerns after she failed to make contact for several days, including on her 22nd birthday last Sunday. Police received a missing person report on Wednesday and commenced a major search and public campaign that saw dozens of calls made to a helpline. David Millane, Grace’s father, arrived in New Zealand on Friday morning and gave a press conference with police, issuing a moving appeal for help. He was joined on the weekend by another family member. Tributes to Grace Millane are left at the roundabout in Titirangi, at the start of Scenic Drive  in Auckland Credit: Getty Mr Millane, a property developer, said Ms Millane had typically “bombarded” the family with messages and photographs during her travels but suddenly went silent after last Saturday. "Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter," he said. "Grace has never been out of contact for this amount of time. She's usually in daily contact with either her mother, myself, her two brothers or members of the family on social media. "We are all extremely upset and it's very difficult at this time to fully describe the range of emotions we are going through." Police took the 26-year-old man into custody several days ago and have charged him with murder.  Detective Inspector Scott Beard speaks at the scene where the body of British tourist Grace Millane was found Credit: Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images Detective Beard said the investigation will continue and searches were still underway at the hotel. He would not comment on whether the pair met on the dating app Tinder. "The focus now is to piece together exactly what happened to a young woman who came to New Zealand on her [overseas experience]," he said. Appeal for information Ms Millane’s body was allegedly transported to the parkland in a red Toyota Corolla hatchback that was rented from a central Auckland firm last Sunday. Police released two photos of the car, which was found in the central North Island town of Taupo, and were appealing for anyone who had seen the vehicle on the morning of Monday, December 3, near the area where the body was found. Expressing condolences to Mr Millane and the family, Detective Beard said: "Any father in this situation is going to struggle. We are putting a lot of support around him. I feel for him, I have a daughter in her twenties.” A 2016 red Toyota Corolla hire car that police are analysing as part of a probe into the death of Grace Millane Credit: PA The case has sent shockwaves across New Zealand, where people expressed outrage and some on social media described the case as a “national shame”. It has also raised concerns about violence towards women in the country. Justin Lester, the mayor of Wellington, the capital, said the case was a "horrible and tragic nightmare". "Our girls should be safe to travel and go out and our men should be looking after and protecting them, not causing harm," he said on Twitter.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Now Millennials Are Being Accused of Killing Canned Tuna

Now Millennials Are Being Accused of Killing Canned Tuna“A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” said Andy Mecs, vice president of marketing and innovation for StarKist.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines