Stephen Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, has been arrested and charged with fraud.
Prosecutors in New York on Thursday announced they have arrested four suspects, including Bannon, who allegedly engaged in a “scheme” to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors to a “We Build the Wall” online crowdfunding campaign. Bannon, as well as Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The online campaign in question raised over $25 million to go toward building a wall on the United States’ southern border, but prosecutors said the suspects falsely claimed that 100 percent of the funds were going toward construction. In reality, prosecutors said, they “secretly schemed to pass” hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage to fund his “lavish lifestyle,” while Bannon allegedly received more than $1 million from the campaign and used “at least some of” this money to “cover hundreds of thousands of dollars” in personal expenses.
Bannon and the other defendants routed payments to Kolfage through a non-profit and a shell company, making use of “fake invoices and sham ‘vendor’ arrangements” in the process, prosecutors also alleged. Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett in a statement said this case should “serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law,” not even a “millionaire political strategist.”
The charges Bannon faces carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Brendan Morrow