Bannon Associate Sentenced to Jail Time for Defrauding Americans in Border Wall Fundraising Scheme

Bannon Associate Sentenced to Jail Time for Defrauding Americans in Border Wall Fundraising Scheme
Brian Kolfage, founder of We Build the Wall, at the new half-mile section of border fence built by his group at Sunland Park, N.M., on May 30, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Zachary Stieber
4/27/2023
Updated:
4/27/2023
0:00

An associate of Steve Bannon was sentenced on April 26 to prison time for defrauding Americans with a border wall fundraising scheme.

Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, another associate, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in federal court in New York City for their involvement in a scheme that solicited donations purportedly for building barriers at the U.S.–Mexico border but that were actually stolen and used for personal items.

Kolfage, 41, a military veteran, was sentenced to 51 months in prison. Badolato, 58, received a 36-month sentence.

“Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato abused the trust of donors to We Build the Wall and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to line their own pockets,“ U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement. ”The defendants have now been held accountable for their criminal conduct.”

Kolfage previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tax and wire fraud charges. Badolato pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Kolfage launched the fundraiser with Bannon, a former adviser of former President Donald Trump, in 2018 and quickly raised millions of dollars.

Prosecutors said Kolfage took more than $350,000 and spent it on boat payments, jewelry, and cosmetic surgery.

“I made a promise not to personally benefit, not anyone else, and I broke that promise,” Kolfage said in court. “I have been humiliated by my poor decisions.”

Kolfage ignored questions from journalists as he exited the courthouse in downtown Manhattan after the hearing.

“The infamous ‘We Build the Wall’ scam will no doubt have a chilling effect on civic participation in the political realm,” Torres said. “The fraudsters behind ‘We Build the Wall’ injured the body politic.”

The judge also ordered Kolfage to forfeit $17.9 million and pay $2.9 million in restitution.

Cesar de Castro, a lawyer for Kolfage, had proposed home detention, citing his client’s medical needs. Badolato’s lawyer Kelly Kramer sought three years of probation for his client, saying he was less culpable and cooperated with prosecutors.

Bannon was pardoned by Trump, who was still in office at the time, in 2021. He still faces New York state money laundering and conspiracy charges over the wall under an indictment from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Bannon, 69, has pleaded not guilty.

Sentencing for another co-defendant, Timothy Shea, was delayed until June 13 due to a request from a lawyer who replaced Shea’s former attorney, who died recently.

Shea, 52, was convicted by a jury in 2022.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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