The Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has announced that Steve Bannon and three others (Brian Kolfage, Andrew Boldato, and Timothy Shea) were arrested and indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The charges stem from their involvement in the We Build The Wall campaign fund.
Prosecutors detailed the charges in an announcement on the SDNY’s website:
Starting in approximately December 2018, BRIAN KOLFAGE, STEPHEN BANNON, ANDREW BADOLATO, and TIMOTHY SHEA, and others, orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors, including donors in the Southern District of New York, in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign ultimately known as “We Build The Wall” that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. In particular, to induce donors to donate to the campaign, KOLFAGE repeatedly and falsely assured the public that he would “not take a penny in salary or compensation” and that “100% of the funds raised . . . will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose” because, as BANNON publicly stated, “we’re a volunteer organization.”
Those representations were false. In truth, KOLFAGE, BANNON, BADOLATO, and SHEA received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds from We Build the Wall, which they each used in a manner inconsistent with the organization’s public representations. In particular, KOLFAGE covertly took for his personal use more than $350,000 in funds that donors had given to We Build the Wall, while BANNON, through a non-profit organization under his control (“Non-Profit-1”), received over $1 million from We Build the Wall, at least some of which BANNON used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in BANNON’s personal expenses. To conceal the payments to KOLFAGE from We Build the Wall, KOLFAGE, BANNON, BADOLATO, and SHEA devised a scheme to route those payments from We Build the Wall to KOLFAGE indirectly through Non-Profit-1 and a shell company under SHEA’s control, among other avenues. They did so by using fake invoices and sham “vendor” arrangements, among other ways, to ensure, as KOLFAGE noted in a text message to BADOLATO, that his pay arrangement remained “confidential” and kept on a “need to know” basis.
The charges each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Anyone else find it a bit too coincidental that the SDNY waited until the last day of the Democrat National Convention to drop these charges?
Pretty lame October Surprise if that’s the case.
Edit: Remember back in July when President Trump blasted We Build The Wall on Twitter?
“I disagreed with doing this very small (tiny) section of wall, in a tricky area, by a private group which raised money by ads,” Trump wrote. “It was only done to make me look bad, and perhaps it now doesn’t even work. Should have been built like rest of Wall, 500 plus miles.”
Kind of makes you think just a little bit…