Fraud trial delayed for Erickson
SIOUX FALLS | A South Dakota man linked to an admitted Russian covert agent will have more time to prepare for his trial on accusations he bilked at least $2.3 million from dozens of people in a bogus investment scam.
A judge on Friday agreed to move the trial for businessman and conservative political operative Paul Erickson, of Sioux Falls, from Oct. 1 to Dec. 3. A status update from attorneys is due on Nov. 19.
Investigators say Erickson spent the money he took in from victims on personal expenses such as motels, flights and college tuition for Maria Butina, his ex-girlfriend.
Butina was sentenced in April to 18 months in prison for gathering intelligence on the National Rifle Association and other groups at the direction of a former Russian lawmaker.
Another bid for idle coal mines
CASPER, Wyo. | Another company says it wants to buy two idle Wyoming coal mines.
Littleton, Colorado-based Aspen Coal and Energy has made an offer to buy the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines from Milton, West Virginia-based Blackjewel.
The mines have been idle since Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy July 1.
Aspen Coal proposes paying up to $44 million to a Blackjewel creditor and $50 million to the U.S. government, which Blackjewel owes mineral royalties.
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Bristol, Tennessee-based Contura Energy won the mines at auction in August but the sale awaits federal approval. If the sale goes through, Contura plans to sell the mines to Jasper, Alabama-based FM Coal.
Contura officials told the Casper Star-Tribune on Thursday they're not interested in the new offer.
Blackjewel officials did not respond to a request for comment.
Postal Service issues T. rex stamps
BOZEMAN, Mont. | The U.S. Postal Service has released two new postage stamps depicting a dinosaur whose fossil was discovered on federal land in Montana.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that a Tyrannosaurus rex known as "The Nation T. rex" is now part of four designs on a pane of 16 new forever stamps that show the dinosaur in growth stages from infancy to adulthood.
Experts say the fossil was found by a family camping near the Fort Peck Reservoir and has been loaned to the Smithsonian Institution in the District of Columbia for the next 50 years.
Officials say the stamps were designed by art director Greg Breeding with original artwork by Julius Csotonyi.
Officials say forever stamps are equal in value to the current first-class mail 1-ounce (28-gram) price.