New York, NY – Federal prosecutors indicted former Trump campaign CEO and White House strategist Steve Bannon and three others on Thursday on charges of fraud related to a fundraising campaign for the border wall.
The indictment alleged that Bannon and Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who helped organize the “We Build The Wall” fundraising campaign, lied when they claimed they would not receive compensation for their part in the efforts, The Washington Post reported.
Prosecutors have said that Bannon received more than $1 million in payment through a non-profit he controlled and Kolfage received more than $350,000.
The indictment claims that Bannon, Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy 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,” WNBC reported.
Prosecutors said that the four men routed money from the wall fundraising campaign through Bannon’s non-profit and another shell company, The Washington Post reported.
They alleged the conspirators disguised the money transfers with fake invoices to keep the compensation they were giving themselves a secret.
“We Build The Wall” was initially set up as a GoFundMe campaign by Kolfage and Shea in 2018 to raise money for President Donald Trump’s border wall when it was facing harsh Congressional opposition.
Bannon and Badolato eventually took control of the campaign’s daily operations, according to WNBC.
Prosecutors said Kolfage publicly guaranteed that he wouldn’t be compensated for his fundraising efforts and said that 100 percent of the money raised would go to building the wall.
But despite that promise, the indictment alleges that he put $350,000 into his pocket and took steps to conceal it, WNBC reported.
Prosecutors have also alleged that after the four men found out “We Build The Wall” was under investigation in October of 2019, they took even more steps to hide what they’d been up to and started using encrypted messaging.
All four defendants have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, WNBC reported.
Each of the charges carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
All four men were expected to appear in court Thursday, WNBC reported.
Bannon is the second former White House official to face federal charges.
Paul Manafort, Bannon’s predecessor on President Donald Trump’s first campaign, was convicted in 2018 on unrelated fraud charges, WNBC reported.
On Tuesday, Kolfage tweeted that the “We Build The Wall” campaign was moving to another platform because of GoFundMe’s support for Black Lives Matter, WNBC reported.