Former White House adviser Steve Bannon was arrested Thursday on charges that he and three others ripped off donors to the “We Build The Wall” online fundraising campaign.
The charges were contained in an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Bannon, 66, and three others, including group founder Brian Kolfage, “orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors” in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.
Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea were also charged.
Bannon was set to appear in federal court in Manhattan, while the other three were appearing in Federal courts in Florida and Colorado.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a press release.
But, according to the indictment, the defendants collectively used hundreds of thousands of dollars in a manner inconsistent with the organization's public representations.
The indictment said they faked invoices and sham “vendor" arrangements, among other ways, to hide what was really happening.
We Build the Wall originally promoted a project for 3 miles of fence posts in South Texas that was ultimately built and largely funded by Fisher Industries, which has received about $2 billion in funding for wall contracts. Tommy Fisher, CEO, didn’t respond to calls for comment.
Trump recently criticized that section of wall after it showed signs of erosion, saying it was “only done to make me look bad.”
The blunt-spoken, combative Bannon’s seven-month tenure in the Trump administration was a rocky one. Opponents accused him of leaking frequently to the media and rushing haphazard efforts to root out “deep state” opponents of the administration, while coverage suggesting that he was leveraging outsize influence to manipulate the president quickly drew Trump’s ire.
Bannon was ousted amid the firestorm over Trump’s handling of the violence that erupted surrounding white supremacist protests in Charlottesville. Bannon applauded Trump’s strategy to voice support for some of the demonstrators protesting the removal of Confederate statutes who marched with individuals chanting Nazi slogans.
Bannon, who served in the Navy and worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs before becoming a Hollywood producer, has been hosting a pro-Trump podcast called “War Room” that began during the president’s impeachment proceedings and has continued during the pandemic.
This report contains material from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News, and Reuters.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.