FORMER White House adviser Steve Bannon was arrested on Thursday for illegally funneling donations via a border wall scheme, lawyers say.
Donald Trump’s former aide and three others were charged with allegedly defrauding donors who gave money to the "We Build The Wall" fund.
The Attorney’s Office – Southern District of New York confirmed that Bannon was arrested this morning for defrauding donors in the border wall scheme that had raised $25 million.
Brian Kolfage, 38, of Miramar Beach, Florida, Bannon, 66, of Washington, D.C., Andred Badolato, 56, of Sarasota, Florida, and Timothy Shea, 49, of Castle Rock, Colorado, were all charged.
They're each facing one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering – each of these carries a 20-year prison sentence.
"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," Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.
"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."
Bannon, Kolfage, Badolato and Shea were all booked this morning.
“The defendants allegedly engaged in fraud when they misrepresented the true use of donated funds," Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett said.
"As alleged, not only did they lie to donors, they schemed to hide their misappropriation of funds by creating sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth," he continued.
"This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist.”
Court documents state that the four men defrauded Trump supporters with an online crowdfunding campaign to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.
How much is Steve Bannon worth?
Steve Bannon has just been arrested – but what is he worth?
Bannon is thought to have amassed a fortune somewhere between $20million and $48million dollars.
In 2018, Forbes reported Bannon’s largest individual holding, worth between $5 million and $25 million, is his consulting firm, Bannon Strategic Advisors.
His film company, Bannon Film Industries, is worth between $1 million and $5 million.
In 2016 the company put out Clinton Cash, a scathing film based on the book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.
Before he began working for Trump he was revealed to be taking a salary of $191,000 from Breitbart in 2016.
The indictment alleged that Bannon, Kolfage, Badolato and Shea used the millions of dollars "in a manner inconsistent with with the organization's public representations."
It goes on to detail that Bannon allegedly pocketed $1 million from We Build the Wall, and used it to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own expenses.
All four of them allegedly created a shell company, Non-profit-1, to conceal their personal payouts.
Kolfage will be in court in Florida today, while Bannon will be presented in the Southern District of New York.
Badolato's first court appearance is also scheduled in Florida today, as Shea faces a Colorado judge.
The District Judge Analisa Torres in the Southern District of New York will be handling the case.
Bannon is a former banker who served on Donald Trump's Presidential campaign and then in the White House before leaving in late 2017.
He's been described as the "most dangerous political operative in America" by Bloomberg.
From March 2012, Bannon was executive chairman of Breitbart News.
In 2018, Bannon is thought to have amassed a fortune somewhere between $20million and $48million dollars.
The year before, Forbes reported Bannon’s largest individual holding, worth between $5 million and $25 million, is his consulting firm, Bannon Strategic Advisors.
Bannon was appointed to become chief executive of Trump's presidential campaign on August 17, 2016.
Following his stunning election win, Trump hired Bannon to become his chief strategist and senior counsellor, which drew heavy criticism.
Bannon was reportedly sacked from the White House by Trump himself in August 2017.
The president later said he had "lost his mind" after Bannon told the author Michael Wolff that Donald Trump Jr meeting with a group of Russians was "treasonous" and "bad s***."
He later apologized for his comments during the “Fire and Fury” book interview.
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