Judge Delays Sentencing of Accused Russian Agent Butina

WASHINGTON (CN) – A government attorney asked a federal judge Tuesday to delay sentencing accused Russian agent Maria Butina since she is still cooperating with the government.

Maria Butina in Moscow, in a photo she posted to Facebook in October 2013.

During a short status conference Tuesday afternoon, Justice Department attorney Erik Kenerson asked the court for a four-week delay.

“We’re not prepared to set a sentencing date, we’re not prepared to ask for a sentencing date at this time,” Kenerson said.

Speaking for Butina, McGlintchey Stafford attorney Robert Driscoll said the delay puts his client “in a bit of a bind” since they are ready to move to sentencing. 

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan agreed to the government’s request, though she empathized with Driscoll’s concern.

“Ms. Butina has been detained for a substantial portion of whatever sentence she likely faces,” Chutkan said, though she also acknowledged the government still needs Butina’s cooperation.

This past December, Butina admitted that she built and worked connections within the National Rifle Association and other political groups to gain access to and influence over politicians in the United States. Butina said she did so at the direction of Central Bank of Russia Deputy Governor Alexander Torshin and with the goal of advancing Russian interests in the United States.

Prosecutors indicted Butina on two counts, conspiracy to act as a foreign agent and acting as a foreign agent. Per the terms of the cooperation deal, the government agreed to drop the second charge.

Butina appeared in court for the first time since her plea deal Tuesday wearing a green jump suit and white undershirt. Her red hair, woven into a single braid, hung over the front of her right shoulder.

Chutkan scheduled another status conference for March 28 at 10 a.m. but said she would vacate it if the government determines before then that Butina is ready to be sentenced.

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