(RepublicanNews.org) – Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and three other individuals, were arrested on Thursday morning, August 20. The four accomplices are facing allegations of fraud, where they were indicted after law enforcement learned of a scheme they hatched to defraud millions of dollars in donations for the “Build the Wall” crowdfunding campaign. The supposed non-profit was formed to help raise money to help build the wall along the southern border between Mexico and the United States.
In the allegation provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ), it alleges that Steve Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors. In total, the Build the Wall campaign received over $25 million in donations.
Scheme to Take Money for Themselves
The DOJ said the four men assured donors that Kolfage, the founder of “We Build the Wall,” would not receive one penny or any benefits for his work in helping secure the border. They stated that 100% of the proceeds would be used towards the goal of building the wall and that it was a voluntary organization.
However, the agency alleges that the group put a secret scheme in place to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to each of the four men. It further claimed that:
- Kolfage secretly took $350,000.
- Bannon, through a non-profit he controlled, received over $1 million.
The DOJ said the men set up a plan to route the money through Bannon’s non-profit and a separate shell company under Shea’s control, among other means. They used false invoices, fake vendor arrangements, and other ways to move the money around without it being detected for their personal use. At one point, the crowdsourcing site GoFundMe asked that a legitimate non-profit organization be identified to transfer the millions of dollars into.
The charges include one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted, each charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.
President Trump Responds
On Thursday afternoon, August 20, President Trump said the Build the Wall Campaign was inappropriate, and that he felt bad for what happened to the donors. Trump said he didn’t know anything about the project, but wasn’t happy about what he learned.
In a moment that illustrated how far the president and Bannon had strayed from one another, Trump said, “I thought it was being done for showboating reasons.” The commander-in-chief said the two men haven’t talked for “a very long time… I haven’t been dealing with him at all.”
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