This is a breaking story and may be updated.
Former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was arrested and charged Thursday for his alleged role in “defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors” related to the anti-immigrant “We Build the Wall” campaign.
The indictment was unsealed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Three other individuals were also arrested for their roles in the privatized border wall scheme that raised over $25 million, the federal prosecutors said, naming campaign leader Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shaw.
“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 U.S. 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,” Strauss added.
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Further, the indictment states, “Bannon, through a non-profit organization under his control, received over $1 million from We Build the Wall, at least some of which Bannon used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in [his] personal expenses.”
According to Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlet, “The defendants allegedly engaged in fraud when they misrepresented the true use of donated funds. As alleged, not only did they lie to donors, they schemed to hide their misappropriation of funds by creating sham invoices and accounts to launder donations and cover up their crimes, showing no regard for the law or the truth.”
“This case should serve as a warning to other fraudsters that no one is above the law,” he added, “not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist.”
Bannon’s involvement in the privatized border wall effort was first reported by Politico last year.