Mueller Probe Yields Longest Prison Sentence Yet

Richard Pinedo will spend six months in prison
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2018 5:45 PM CDT
Special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation has yielded its longest prison sentence yet.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – A third person has been sentence in connection with Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Richard Pinedo, 28, will spend six months in prison followed by six months of home confinement, NBC reports. It is the longest sentence so far handed out in connection to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Pinedo, who pleaded guilty to one count of identity fraud in February, sold fake online identities, per CNN, which calls Pinedo a "computer whiz," who is "one of the more unusual and relatively unknown defendants" to be caught up in Mueller's investigation. In April, Dutch attorney Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison and a $20,000 fine for lying to federal agents investigating Paul Manafort. And last month George Papadopoulos, a former campaign advisor to President Trump, was sentenced to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI.

Pinedo, who has "no connection at all to Donald Trump or anyone in his orbit," per Vox, "committed large-scale identity fraud for the wrong people." He sold stolen US bank account numbers to help users get around PayPal's identity verification measures. His actions enabled 13 Russians, who have been indicted for interfering in the election, to buy ads on Facebook. In all, the scheme reportedly netted $40,000 to $90,000 for Pinedo. "Never did it cross my mind that the services that I offered would be used to commit the highest crimes," he said, per NBC. "I've been told that if I ever leave the country, the Russians will poison me. (Read more Russia investigation stories.)

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