Maria Butina, a confessed Russian agent, pled for mercy moments before being sentenced for conspiring to infiltrate a group for gun rights advocates. Once the group was infiltrated, Butina and a Russian official planned to influence the thoughts of conservatives and Republicans. Butina expressed remorse to the court for her actions.
United States District Judge Tanya Chutkan provided a judgment that was in line with the desires of prosecutors. In addition to an 18-month prison sentence, Butina will be deported to her home country of Russia following her incarceration.
According to CNN, the effective start date for the sentence is the day Butina was first arrested in July. This means Butina is already credited with serving nine months of her 18-month sentence.
Butina once attended graduate school at American University where she was a public advocate for gun rights. Her lawyers asked Judge Chutkan to issue a sentence of time served and allow their client to return home to Russia.
Butina appeared at her sentencing dressed in a green prison jumpsuit and was in tears while asking the judge for leniency.
Butina told the court she was embarrassed and ashamed of her actions. She also said her parents taught her the value of higher education. Butina says her parents always encouraged her to live a lawful life and treat others well.
Butina continued by telling the court she has earned three degrees but is now a convicted felon with very limited opportunities.
Judge Chutkan chastized Butina and told her the offense she committed was not a simple mistake by an overzealous college student from a foreign country.
Butina confessed to working with a Russian Official and two Americans citizens to gain influence within the National Rifle Association. The group is closely aligned with the Republican Party and current president Donald Trump. Butina and her co-conspirators intended to create a line of communication with politicians in Washington to influence political policies.
The Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow characterized the harsh sentence received by Butina as politically motivated. The feeling of the Ministry is Butina’s status as a Russian citizen is the true reason she received the sentence.
Prosecutors say Butina did not take part in traditional activities of spies. Instead, she worked behind the scenes arranging dinners in New York and Washington. She also attended events that gave her the opportunity to meet top politicians. Her goal was to promote better relations between the United States and Russia.