Steve Bannon, one of the former advisers to US President Donald Trump, and three others were arrested and charged with fraud linked to an online fundraising campaign seeking to build a wall at the US-Mexico border, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Baldolato and Timothy Shea allegedly “defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors in connection with We Build the Wall campaign that raised more than $25 million” the agency 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,” said Acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss.
The founder of the campaign, Kolfage, took $350,000 for personal use. Bannon received more than $1 million through a non-profit organization under his control, at least some of which he used to “cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bannon’s personal expenses,” according to the Justice Department.
“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,” Strauss added.
All of the defendants will appear in court later Thursday.
The wall was one of Trump’s most prominent 2016 campaign promises to help keep undocumented immigrants out of the country, but little progress has been made on Trump’s signature project.
Copyright 2021 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.