Federal prosecutors have charged Steve Bannon and other right-wing activists with defrauding hundreds of thousands of people who donated money to build a private border wall.
In an indictment unsealed Thursday, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York charged Bannon, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and White House adviser, and three others with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. US Postal Service agents arrested Bannon on Thursday, CBS News reported.
Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement, “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.”
As part of an effort called “We Build the Wall,” the defendants crowdfunded more than $25 million to build a private wall along the border with Mexico. In doing so, they repeatedly assured donors that none of the money would go to the salary of Brian Kolfage, the public face of the campaign.
Instead, Bannon helped secretly pay Kolfage hundreds of thousands of dollars while also taking more than $1 million for himself through a nonprofit, according to the indictment. Kolfage allegedly used his money to pay for, among other things, a golf cart, a boat, and cosmetic surgery.