Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon accused of defrauding border wall donors

Steve Bannon, a onetime political adviser to former President Donald Trump, has been accused by authorities in New York of defrauding donors to the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign for a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Pannon He surrendered to the authorities Thursday in Manhattan.

Speaking to reporters after his appearance, he said, “The allegations are 60 days to the election.”

“It’s ironic that on the day the mayor of this city has a delegation at the border, they’re harassing people who are trying to stop them at the border,” Bannon said of New York’s fact-finding delegation. Following Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s decision, City Mayor Eric Adams has sent a letter to Texas. Bus immigrants to New York.

The indictment charges Bannon and “we’re building the wall” two counts of money laundering, which carry a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison. There are additional felony counts of conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud.

State charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office are similar to federal charges. Bannon was pardoned by Trump, and accuse Bannon and “We Built the Wall” of defrauding 430 Manhattan-based donors of $33,600. Across New York State, more than 11,000 donors were defrauded of more than $730,000, the indictment says.

Trump’s pardon applies only to the federal case and does not preclude state charges.

Former US President Donald Trump’s White House chief strategist Steve Bannon arrives at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on September 8, 2022 in New York.

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

“Mr. Bannon used his donors’ political views to misappropriate millions of dollars. Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to enrich himself and his friends,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who participated in the investigation. , said in a statement.

“It’s a crime to lie to donors and make a profit, and you can be held accountable in New York,” Manhattan District Attorney Bragg said. “As charged, Stephen Bannon acted as the architect of a multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud thousands of donors across the country — including hundreds of Manhattan residents.”

Two Florida men, an Air Force veteran and a venture capitalist, were charged with Bannon in the federal case and He confessed to the crime in April for their role in a scheme to defraud “We Built the Wall” donors.

Brian Kolfage and Andrew Batolato were accused in the scheme along with Bannon. A fourth defendant, Timothy Shea, prosecuted the case Ended up with a mistrial.

Golfage and Batolato were not named in the state indictment, but were listed as co-conspirators 1 and 2, which may have helped Manhattan prosecutors build their case against Bannon.

The quartet reportedly used some of the $25 million raised through “We Built the Wall” for personal expenses, including a luxury SUV, golf cart and cosmetic surgery.

“The defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, using their interest in funding the border wall to raise millions of dollars under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” said then-U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. Fee announced in 2020.

“My sole purpose is to raise funds and donate those funds to the federal government,” Kolfage told the judge in the federal case.

“You promised that 100% of the money would be used to build that wall? Is that right?” Judge Analisa Torres asked.

“Yes, your honor,” replied Kolfage.

“You kept that large amount of money with you and didn’t tell the IRS that you received the money. Is that right?” Torres asked.

“Yes, your honor,” replied Kolfage.

Bannon’s surrender on Thursday makes him the third defendant pardoned by Trump to face charges brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s one-time campaign chairman, is accused of directing a two-year scheme to obtain more than $19 million in residential mortgage loans based on fraudulent representations to various banks. New York Court of Appeals He eventually dropped the caseThis makes it very similar to Manafort’s federal conviction and therefore double jeopardy.

In the state case against Bannon, double jeopardy is expected to not apply because a jury was never convened to weigh federal fraud charges over “We’re Building the Wall.”

Ken Kurson, former New York Observer editor, Jared Kushner associate and Rudy Giuliani correspondent, pardoned by Trump in federal cyberstalking case. Curzon He eventually pleaded guilty to two state-level misdemeanors accusing him of spying on his ex-wife’s computer.

Curzon is due back in court next week so the judge can make sure he complies with community service.

Trump pardoned Curzon in his final moments in office, but then-Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced an indictment seven months later.

According to the indictment, Curson secretly installed spyware on his ex-wife’s computer in 2015 from his work computer at Observer.

“We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York,” Vance said in a statement at the time the charges against Gerson were announced in 2021.

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