On Thursday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said “Former White House adviser Steve Bannon has been accused on charges of defrauding donors to a $25 million campaign to build a border wall.” He and a few others are accused of ripping off donations to the ‘We Build the Wall’ online fundraiser.
Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Trump, is alleged of personally pocketing $1 million in contributions meant for construction of the border wall, funneled through a nonprofit under his control. Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, “The defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction.” He also went to add, “Meanwhile, We Build the Wall founder Brian Kolfage, 38, promised donors he wouldn’t take a single penny from the pot — but Bannon and their cohorts secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle”
Bannon, Kolfage among two others, Andrew Badolato, 56, and Timothy Shea, 49 have been further indicted of hiding the payments to Kolfage by passing them through Bannon’s nonprofit and a shell company that Shea controlled. “They created fake invoices and bogus “vendor” arrangements to make the payments seem legitimate”, prosecutors said.
They were arrested this morning and were scheduled to appear in Manhattan federal court later in the afternoon. All of them were, thereby charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, each carrying 20 years of imprisonment.