Former Trump administration chief strategist Steve Bannon was charged on Thursday with fraud by federal prosecutors in New York and taken into custody.
According to Axios,
Bannon, along with three others, allegedly defrauded donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for their own profit with a crowdfunding campaign called “We Build the Wall“ that raked in over $25 million.
- The indictment says that Bannon, via a non-profit, took in over $1 million from the scheme “and at least some of it was used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in [his] personal expenses.”
- Bannon’s co-conspirators are Brian Kolfage, who served as the organization’s founder and president, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea.
- Kolfage deleted the organization’s GoFundMe page on Wednesday, alleging that the platform was engaged in “censorship” after it shut down another of his campaigns centered on suing Black Lives Matter.
- The indictment says that the organization did indeed spend money on a border wall but alleges that “hundreds of thousands of dollars were siphoned … for the personal use and benefit” of the defendants.
- They allegedly used the money “for a variety of personal expenses, including, among other things, travel, hotel, consumer goods and personal credit card debts.”
Kolfage specifically allegedly used his share for “home renovations, payments toward a boat, a luxury SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, cosmetic surgery, personal tax payments and credit card debt.“
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement,
“As alleged, 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.”