Bannon associates sentenced to prison for border wall fundraising scam
A pair of associates of former White House advisor Steve Bannon were sentenced to prison on Wednesday for defrauding donors of a campaign to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border during former President Trump's administration, according to the Department of Justice.
Driving the news: Brian Kolfage, 41, of Miramar Beach, Florida, received a sentence of 51 months in prison for his role in the campaign, which raised more than $25 million from hundreds of thousands of donors.
- Andrew Badolato, 58, of Cocoa, Florida, was also sentenced to 36 months in prison for his role in the scheme, per DOJ.
Why it matters: Federal prosecutors indicted Bannon, Kolfage and Badolato over the campaign in August 2020. Trump later pardoned Bannon over his alleged misappropriation of fundraising funds.
- Trump issued the pardon in the final hours of his presidency, even though most of the money came from his supporters.
Details: Starting in December 2018, Kolfage, Badolato, their co-defendant Timothy Shea and others began soliciting donations through a GoFundMe campaign called "We Build The Wall," which had a goal of raising $1 billion.
- During the campaign, Kolfage repeatedly claimed that all donations would be used for the wall's construction.
- However, federal prosecutors said the three men were a part of a scheme that routed hundreds of thousands of dollars to entities and banks they controlled.
- The trio then spent the money on items and services unrelated to the wall's construction, per DOJ.
By the numbers: A federal judge ordered Kolfage on Wednesday to forfeit $17.9 million and pay $2.9 million in restitution. He must also serve three years of supervised release after completing his prison sentence.
- Badolato was ordered to forfeit $1.4 million and pay $1.4 million in restitution.
- The campaign itself was ordered to forfeit $1.4 million, as well as property in Sunland Park, New Mexico, where a portion of the wall was built.
The big picture: In September 2022, New York prosecutors charged Bannon for allegedly committing money laundering and conspiracy throughout his role in the fundraising scheme.
- Bannon pleaded not guilty to the charges, and the case is expected to go to trial in November.
- Shea was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of justice after a trial in October 2022. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13.
Go deeper: DOJ arrests Bannon associate over alleged $1B fraud scheme
Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.