Steve Bannon, 3 Others Arrested For Alleged Conspiracy Scheme Regarding Border Wall Funds

( Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist for the White House, was arrested Thursday. He and three others are being charged with defrauding donors through the “We Build the Wall” campaign.

He was indicted in the U.S. Southern District of New York. Timothy Shea, who was named the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration in May, was also arrested. The two other men involved were Iraq war veteran Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato.

The indictment alleges the four men defrauded donors in an effort that raised “more than $25 million to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.”

The campaign’s goal was to raise money that would go toward building a border wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. That was one of President Donald Trump’s main campaign promises.

Prosecutors say that Bannon and others profited personally from the campaign, though. They say the men “collectively 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 a statement, Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney,” 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. While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle.

“We thank the USPIS (United States Postal Inspection Service) for their partnership in investigating this case, and we remain dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting fraud wherever we find it.”

Kolfage started a crowd-funding campaign page on GoFundMe in 2018 to build a border wall. He is a 37-year-old veteran and a triple amputee. His page went viral, and the campaign received donations from thousands of people.

GoFundMe threatened to shut down his page, though, unless he “identified a legitimate non-profit organization into which those funds could be transferred.”

All four men are being charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud as well as one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the indictment. Each of those charges carries a separate maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

“The defendants allegedly engaged in fraud when they misrepresented the true use of donated funds,” Philip Bartlett, the Inspector-in-Charge, said. “As alleged, not only did they lie to donors, they schemed to hide their misappropriation of funds by creating sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth.

“This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist.”

The four defendants will all be presented Thursday before magistrate judges in their respective districts.