CARTHAGE — A former Carthage developer who was romantically linked to a convicted Russian spy was among 143 11th-hour pardons that now former President Donald J. Trump granted before leaving office Wednesday.
In the last hours of his presidency, President Trump late Tuesday night pardoned Paul A. Erickson, 59, who was involved in a Fort Drum housing project that was never finished in the late 1980s and most recently became entwined with a Russian spy known for her love of guns.
Mr. Erickson joined the former president’s onetime political strategist Steve Bannon, Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy and a couple of rap stars who were also pardoned just as President Trump was about to leave office. Rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black were both convicted on weapons charges.
Mr. Erickson, a conservative operative with ties to the National Rifle Association, came under scrutiny during the investigation into Russian election interference.
He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in an unrelated case when he tried to help convicted Russian spy Maria Butina infiltrate conservative Republican circles and the NRA.
He admitted to receiving $100,000 from an investor who wired it to Mr. Erickson’s bank account for a real estate venture in North Dakota.
But Mr. Erickson never pursued the project or paid the investor back the money. Last July, he was sentenced to seven years in federal prison.
In 2019, he made headlines for his relationship with Ms. Butina, now 33, who posed as a Russian gun activist and had ties to a powerful Russian oligarch who is a friend to President Vladimir Putin.
That year, she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.
Upon her release from prison, she was deported to Russia, where she received a hero’s welcome and a job with the Russian government.
While the wire fraud and money laundering charges are not related to her activities in this country, Mr. Erickson admitted in court papers that he used $1,000 of the $100,000 to transfer to M.B. — widely believed to be Ms. Butina.
During his Carthage days, Mr. Erickson was known for his association with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who in 2008 was sentenced to four years in prison for corruption.
Mr. Erickson showed up in Carthage in 1986 as president of the one-year-old company Newgate, looking to build 355 townhouses outside the expanding Fort Drum. He appeared with the company secretary, Jack Abramoff, proposing a $20 million to $25 million investment in affordable housing.
In September 1986, Mr. Erickson told the Times that he was ready to break ground after closing a deal on almost 40 acres.
The project had, by this time, acquired a name — Regency Park.
The next July, the project had shrunk to 328 units and was once again ready to break ground after being delayed due to a lack of markets. The actual groundbreaking for the now 320-unit project occurred in November 1987.
By September 1990, Regency Park was unfinished and Mr. Erickson ended up going missing.
Another developer stepped in, but the project never got off the ground.