February 16, 2018 / 9:08 PM / a month ago

U.S. man indicted for identity fraud in Russia probe 'made a mistake' - lawyer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. man indicted for identity fraud in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election “made a mistake” but “had absolutely no knowledge” about who was buying the information or their motivations, his lawyer said on Friday.

Jeremy Lessem, a Los Angeles attorney representing Richard Pinedo Jr., said in a statement his client “sold bank information which allowed individuals to fraudulently verify and establish accounts with online financial institutions,” but said he “had absolutely no knowledge of the identities and motivations of any of the purchasers of the information he provided.”

According to a source familiar with indictments announced by the Justice Department on Friday, Pinedo is named as helping Russian conspirators launder money as well as purchase Facebook ads and pay for rally supplies, through PayPal Holdings Inc as part of criminal and espionage conspiracy to intervene in the 2016 U.S. election campaign to support Donald Trump and disparage rival Hillary Clinton.

Mueller reached an agreement on Friday with Pinedo, who pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting interstate and foreign identity fraud by creating, buying and stealing hundreds of bank account numbers that he sold to individuals to use with large digital payment companies.

Reporting by Susan Heavey; writing by Eric Walsh; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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