Updated Apr 26, 2023, 1:29pm EDT
politicsNorth America

Steve Bannon associate sentenced to more than 4 years in ‘We Build the Wall’ scam

Brian Kolfage
REUTERS/Mike Segar

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The News

Two former associates of ex-White House advisor Steve Bannon will be going to prison for defrauding donors in a campaign that purported to build former President Donald Trump’s southern border wall.

U.S. Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, 41, was sentenced to more than four years in prison, and Andrew Badolato, 58, to three years. Both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud last year.

“The fraud perpetrated by Mr. Kolfage and Mr. Badolato went well beyond ripping off individual donors,” U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres said during the sentencing hearing. “They hurt us all by eroding the public’s faith in the political process.”

Bannon, Trump’s former strategist, was also charged over the scam, but Trump pardoned him during his last days in office. New York state prosecutors subsequently launched fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy charges against Bannon.

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Step Back

Bannon and Kolfage, who prosecutors framed as the masterminds behind the scam, raised more than $25 million through the “We Build the Wall” campaign.

But prosecutors allege that Bannon used $1 million of those funds to “secretly” pay Kolfage for his work and for other personal expenses.

Kolfage was accused of spending more than $350,000 of the campaign money on things like cosmetic surgery, a luxury vehicle, payments toward a boat, home renovations, and credit card debt. Badolato knew about the fraud and helped devise incognito wire payments.

“I knew what I was doing was wrong and a crime,” Kolfage said in court last year.

A third defendant, Timothy Shea, was convicted at a trial in October. He is set to be sentenced in June.