California man in 'state of fear' after aiding Mueller probe

September 26, 2018 - 8:40 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A California man who unwittingly sold bank accounts to Russians meddling in U.S. elections is living in a "constant state of fear" after becoming a government cooperator.

A lawyer for Richard "Ricky" Pinedo said in court papers Wednesday that Pinedo has received death threats and suffers from anxiety.

Pinedo's lawyer, Jeremy Lessem, says his client's testimony helped special counsel Robert Mueller secure an indictment against 13 Russians accused in an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election. Lessem is arguing his client should get probation.

Pinedo pleaded guilty in February to using stolen identities to set up bank accounts that were then used by the Russians. Authorities acknowledged he didn't know he was dealing with Russians.

Prosecutors say Pinedo has provided "significant assistance" in identity theft investigations.

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