Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon accused of defrauding border wall donors

Steve Bannon, a former political adviser to former President Donald Trump, has been accused by New York authorities of defrauding donors to the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign for a wall along the US-US border. mexican.

The indictment charges Bannon and “We Build the Wall” itself with two counts of money laundering, which carry a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison. There are other counts of conspiracy and scheme to defraud as well as a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to defraud.

banon turned over to the authorities Thursday in Manhattan.

He spoke to reporters after he arrived to surrender, saying the charges were “all about 60 days away from the election”.

“It’s an irony, on the very day the mayor of this town has a delegation at the border, they persecute people here who try to stop them at the border,” Bannon said, referring to an investigative delegation. At New York. City Mayor Eric Adams sent to Texas following Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to migrants by bus in New York.

The state charges, brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, resemble federal charges for which Bannon was pardoned by Trump, and allege that Bannon and “We Build the Wall” defrauded 430 Manhattan-based donors out of $33,600. In New York State, more than 11,000 donors were defrauded of more than $730,000, according to the indictment.

Trump’s pardon applies only to the federal case and does not exclude state charges.

PICTURED: Former US President Donald Trump's Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon arrives at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office in New York, September 8, 2022.

Former US President Donald Trump’s Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon arrives at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York, September 8, 2022.

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

“It is a crime to profit by lying to donors, and in New York you will be held accountable,” Manhattan District Attorney Bragg said of the charges. “As alleged, Stephen Bannon acted as the architect of a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud thousands of donors across the country, including hundreds of Manhattanites.”

“Mr. Bannon took advantage of the political views of his donors to obtain millions of dollars which he then embezzled. Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to enrich himself and his friend,” the New York Attorney General added. York, Letitia James, whose office was involved in the investigation. investigation.

Two Florida men, an Air Force veteran and a venture capitalist, have been charged with Bannon in the federal case and pleaded guilty in April in connection with their role in the alleged scheme to defraud “We Build the Wall” donors.

Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato have been charged in the scheme with Bannon. A fourth defendant, Timothy Shea, has been tried ended in a mistrial.

Kolfage and Badolato are not named in the state indictment, but are listed as co-conspirators 1 and 2, a sign that they could have helped Manhattan prosecutors build their case against Bannon.

The foursome allegedly used a portion of the $25 million raised through “We Build the Wall” for personal expenses, including a luxury SUV, golf cart and cosmetic surgery, according to the federal indictment.

“The defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, taking advantage of 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,” said U.S. attorney Audrey Strauss when the charges were announced in 2020.

“My only intention was to raise funds and donate those funds to the federal government,” Kolfage told the judge in the federal case.

“And you promised 100% of the money would be used to build that wall? Is that right?” asked Judge Analisa Torres.

“Yes, Your Honor,” Kolfage replied.

“After keeping this large sum of money for yourself, you didn’t tell the taxman that you had received the money. Is that right?” Torres asked.

“Yes, your honor,” Kolfage replied.

Bannon’s surrender on Thursday makes him the third defendant pardoned by Trump to subsequently face charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign boss, has been accused of leading a two-year scheme to secure more than $19 million in residential mortgages based on fraudulent representations from various banks. The New York Court of Appeals ultimately dismissed the casedeeming it too similar to the federal conviction of Manafort and therefore double jeopardy.

In the state’s case against Bannon, double jeopardy should not apply because a jury was never convened to weigh the federal fraud charges on “We Build the Wall.”

Ken Kurson, former editor of the New York Observer, associate of Jared Kushner and speechwriter for Rudy Giuliani, has been pardoned by Trump in a federal cyberstalking case. Kurson eventually pleaded guilty to two state-level misdemeanors that accused him of spying on his ex-wife’s computer.

Kurson is due back in court next week so the judge can make sure he complies with his community service.

Trump pardoned Kurson during his final moments in office, but Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced an indictment seven months later charging Kurson with wiretapping and computer intrusion.

Kurson in 2015 surreptitiously installed spyware on his ex-wife’s computer from his work computer at the Observer in 2015, the indictment alleges.

“We will not accept presidential pardons as release cards for well-connected people in New York City,” Vance said in a statement as the charges against Kurson were announced in 2021.

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