CNN reports that 28 year old Richard Pinedo, the California man caught up in the Russia investigation having unwittingly aided Russian trolls by selling stolen bank accounts to them, has been sentenced to six months in jail and six months in home detention on Wednesday in the US District Court in Washington DC. He will serve two years of supervised release after his detention is served. The judge opted not to impose a fine because Pinedo would not be able to pay it, per CBS.
Pinedo pleaded guilty to one count of identity fraud on February 12. His case was revealed when the Justice Department announced the indictments of 3 Russian companies and 13 Russian nationals for running a troll farm that used fake identities and stolen bank accounts to buy internet ads to foment discord during the 2016 presidential election.
Pinedo’s sentence is the most severe of those sentenced in the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference into the election. Van der Zwaan, the Dutch attorney who pleaded guilty to lying to prosecutors, was sentenced to 30 days in jail. After serving his time, he was deported in June. George Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in jail, 12 months of supervised release, 200 hours of community service and fined $9,500.
Paul Manafort’s sentence, after being found guilty of eight charges in August and then pleading guilty, will be set after his cooperation is complete. Likewise, Michael Cohen’s sentence is still outstanding and Mike Flynn’s sentencing is scheduled for December 18.
Pinedo ran a website called “Auction Essistance” through which he sold stolen banking information which helped his clients circumvent security protocols of Paypal, CBS reports. Some of those clients were Russians who used that information to buy online ads to sway opinions in the election. Those Russian nationals were indicted in February 2018.
Richard Pinedo told U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich that he takes full responsibility for his actions, saying, “Never did it cross my mind that the services I was providing would be used in crimes at the highest level.” He asked for lienency on the grounds of the cooperation he provided to the special counsel.
“This is a very difficult case,” Friedrich said as she ticked through how Pinedo had “opened the door” for Russian actors to upend an American presidential election and made between $40,000 to $95,000 on the transactions from 2014 to 2017.
She also considered Pinedo’s immediate admission of guilt when FBI agents came to his home and the grand jury testimony delivered to help Mueller’s investigation in Washington, D.C.
“I can tell you are genuinely remorseful for your actions,” Friedrich saidPolitico
Rush Atkinson, Mueller’s prosecutor, stated that Pinedo did reveal other alleged crimes by other individuals but said, since those charges were outside Mueller’s mandate to investigate, those matters were referred out to other US attorneys across the country. He also stated that Pinedo’s cooperation did not aid in the charging of the 13 Russian nationals and 3 companies because the special counsel’s team already had the information Pinedo provided about them, Politico reports.