Bannon Crony Gets Four Years In Border Wall Scam

Semafor reports:

Two former associates of ex-White House advisor Steve Bannon will be going to prison for defrauding donors in a campaign that purported to build Trump’s southern border wall.  Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, 41, was sentenced to more than four years in prison, and Andrew Badolato, 58, to three years. Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud last year.

“The fraud perpetrated by Mr. Kolfage and Mr. Badolato went well beyond ripping off individual donors,” U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres said during the sentencing hearing. “They hurt us all by eroding the public’s faith in the political process.” Bannon, Trump’s former strategist, was also charged over the scam, but Trump pardoned him during his last days in office. New York state prosecutors subsequently launched fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy charges against Bannon.

From the Justice Department:

Starting in approximately December 2018, BRIAN KOLFAGE, ANDREW BADOLATO, their co-defendant 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 $25,000,000 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.”

Those representations were lies. In truth, KOLFAGE, BADOLATO, SHEA, and others 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.

For example, KOLFAGE covertly took for his personal use more than $350,000 in funds that donors had given to We Build the Wall. To conceal the payments to KOLFAGE from We Build the Wall, KOLFAGE, BADOLATO, SHEA, and others devised a scheme to route those payments through entities and bank accounts that they controlled.

They took various steps to obscure or conceal these payments, including by using fake invoices and sham contracts — conduct for which SHEA was convicted at trial of obstruction of justice.

In addition to the prison terms, KOLFAGE was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $17,872,106 and pay restitution in the amount of $2,877,414.

BADOLATO was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1,414,368 and pay restitution in the amount of $1,414,368.

Judge Torres also separately ordered forfeiture of $1,376,597.39 of funds held by We Build the Wall and real property located in Sunland Park, New Mexico, on which We Build the Wall had constructed a portion of a wall.