New York federal prosecutors on Thursday charged President Donald Trump’s former campaign adviser Steve Bannon and three others with defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars as part of a fundraising campaign purportedly aimed at supporting Trump’s border wall.
Bannon was arrested Thursday morning, according to a spokesman for the US attorney’s office. Bannon’s lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bannon will make his initial court appearance in New York later Thursday, according to the US attorney’s office.
The four men are indicted for allegedly taking hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to a group called We Build the Wall and using the funds for personal expenses, among other things.
According to prosecutors, Bannon, through a non-profit identified as Non-Profit-1, used more than $1 million from We Build the Wall to “secretly” pay another defendant, Brian Kolfage, and cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bannon’s personal expenses.
Bannon, Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
“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 Manhattan 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.”
Alyssa Farah, the White House director of strategic communications, declined to comment on the indictment Thursday morning.