Steve Bannon, who served as White House Chief Strategist for Donald Trump early in his administration, has been indicted by federal prosecutors in New York. He is reportedly charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He’s accused of taking donations for a “We Build The Wall” fund and funneling them to private use.
A statement from the Southern District of New York says that Bannon was indicted along with Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea.
Brian Kolfage, Stephen Bannon, and two others alleged to have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization to Kolfage; all four defendants allegedly profited from Their roles in the scheme.
Acting US Attorney for SDNY Audrey Straus released a statement on the crimes.
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) August 20, 2020
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. 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.
MSNBC reporter Kyle Griffin noted that the two charges against Bannon could carry sentences of 20 years each.
SDNY: Steve Bannon has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, "each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 20, 2020
White House correspondents for NBC are reporting that inside sources say Bannon is expected to plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges.
NEWS: Source familiar tells @HallieJackson that Steve Bannon is expected to plead not guilty
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) August 20, 2020
According to Axios, Bannon himself used the donations to cover at least “hundreds of thousands of dollars” of his own personal expenses.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com