Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Border Wall Fundraiser Going to Prison for Stealing Donor Money
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 1 year ago on
April 26, 2023

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The co-founder of a fundraising group linked to Steve Bannon that promised to help Donald Trump construct a wall along the southern U.S. border was sentenced to four years and three months in prison on Wednesday for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors.

Brian Kolfage, a decorated Air Force veteran who lost both of his legs and an arm in the Iraq War, previously pleaded guilty for his role in siphoning donations from the We Build the Wall campaign.

A co-defendant, financier Andrew Badolato, was also sentenced to three years for aiding the effort. He had also pleaded guilty. A third man involved in siphoning funds from the wall project, Colorado businessman Tim Shea, won’t be sentenced until June.

Kolfage and Badolato were also ordered to pay $25 million in restitution to the victims.

Absent from the case was Bannon, Trump’s former top political adviser. He was initially arrested aboard a luxury yacht and faced federal fraud charges along with the other men, but Trump pardoned him during his final hours in office.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought new, state charges against Bannon last year. He is awaiting trial. Presidential pardons apply only to federal crimes, not state offenses. Bannon has called the case “nonsense.”

Kolfage, Badolato and Shea were not pardoned by Trump, leaving them to face the prospect of years in prison.

Promised to ‘Not Take a Penny’

Prosecutors said the scheme was hatched by Kolfage, who served as the public face of the effort as it raised more than $25 million from donors across the country. He repeatedly assured the public he would “not take a penny” from the campaign.

As money poured into the cause, Kolfage and his partner, Shea, turned to Bannon and Badolato for help creating a nonprofit, We Build the Wall, Inc. The four defendants then took steps to funnel the money to themselves for personal gain, prosecutors said.

Kolfage, 41, told Judge Analisa Torres that he was “remorseful, disgusted, humiliated.” He said he had not anticipated the scale of donations that would flood in for the cause and soon found himself drifting away from his initial goal, which he said was “putting a spotlight on the country’s broken immigration system.”

“I made a promise not to personally benefit and I broke that promise,” he said.

Torres said the defendants not only cheated their donors but contributed to a “chilling effect on civic participation” by tarnishing the reputation of political fundraising.

“The fraudsters behind We Build The Wall injured the body politic,” she said.

Kolfage received more than $350,000 in donor funds, which he spent on personal expenses that included boat payments, a luxury SUV and cosmetic surgery, prosecutors said in a court filing.

Bannon was accused of taking more than $1 million through a separate nonprofit, then secretly paying some of it back to Kolfage.

Badolato, 58, and Shea also stole hundreds of thousands from fundraisers as well, prosecutors said.

As part of a plea deal, Kolfage and Badolato agreed not to challenge a sentence within the agreed-upon range: between four to five years for Kolfage and 3 1/2 to four years for Badolato.

An attorney for Kolfage previously argued that his client should avoid prison time given his lack of criminal history and severe disability.

Some sections of a border barrier were built by We Build the Wall on private lands, but the nonprofit is now defunct.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Paul McCartney Becomes Britain’s First Billionaire Musician

DON'T MISS

California Cracked Down After a Crash Killed 13 Farmworkers. Why Are Workers Still Dying on the Road?

DON'T MISS

These Rare Chainsaws Are Worth Big Bucks to Collectors

DON'T MISS

Jewish Lobby Presses California Lawmakers to Combat Antisemitism

DON'T MISS

Opinion: How Urban Renewal Ruined Everything

DON'T MISS

California Wine Squeezed Dry: Insiders Say It’s Time to Pull up Acreage

DON'T MISS

Alabama Mercedes Employees Overwhelmingly Vote Against Joining Union, Slowing UAW Effort in South

DON'T MISS

Stock Market Today: Dow Finishes Above 40,000 to Cap Wall Street’s Latest Winning Week

DON'T MISS

Where Do State Lawmakers Stand on War in Gaza, Campus Protests?

DON'T MISS

High-Speed Rail Now Working to Extend Valley Line to 171 Miles

UP NEXT

Where Do State Lawmakers Stand on War in Gaza, Campus Protests?

UP NEXT

Billionaires Urged NYC Mayor to Use Police on Columbia Protesters, Chats Reveal

UP NEXT

Psychedelic Therapy and Workers’ Rights Bills Fail to Advance in California’s Tough Budget Year

UP NEXT

Man Sentenced to 30 Years for Hammer Attack on Nancy Pelosi’s Husband

UP NEXT

Interior Dept Staffer, First Jewish Biden Appointee, Resigns Over Gaza War

UP NEXT

Cohen Grilled Over Past Lies as Defense Targets Key Witness in Trump Hush Money Trial

UP NEXT

Two Bills Seek to Boost Valley’s Role in Solar Power. Which One Got Killed Today?

UP NEXT

What Is Mayor’s Plan to Handle $47 Million Fresno Budget Deficit?

UP NEXT

Former Congressmember Cox Close to Plea Deal in Money Laundering Case

UP NEXT

California Professor to Stand Trial for Death of Pro-Israel Protester

Jewish Lobby Presses California Lawmakers to Combat Antisemitism

3 days ago

Opinion: How Urban Renewal Ruined Everything

3 days ago

California Wine Squeezed Dry: Insiders Say It’s Time to Pull up Acreage

3 days ago

Alabama Mercedes Employees Overwhelmingly Vote Against Joining Union, Slowing UAW Effort in South

3 days ago

Stock Market Today: Dow Finishes Above 40,000 to Cap Wall Street’s Latest Winning Week

3 days ago

Where Do State Lawmakers Stand on War in Gaza, Campus Protests?

3 days ago

High-Speed Rail Now Working to Extend Valley Line to 171 Miles

3 days ago

Beautify Fresno Combines Dog Adoption, Litter Removal in Unique Saturday Event

3 days ago

Bulldogs’ Gilmore Named MW Softball Pitcher of the Year

3 days ago

The Latest | Dozens of Israeli Protesters Attack a Truck in an Apparent Effort to Block Gaza Aid

3 days ago

Paul McCartney Becomes Britain’s First Billionaire Musician

LONDON — Paul McCartney is a billionaire Beatle. According to figures released Friday, the former member of the Fab Four is the first Britis...

2 days ago

2 days ago

Paul McCartney Becomes Britain’s First Billionaire Musician

2 days ago

California Cracked Down After a Crash Killed 13 Farmworkers. Why Are Workers Still Dying on the Road?

2 days ago

These Rare Chainsaws Are Worth Big Bucks to Collectors

3 days ago

Jewish Lobby Presses California Lawmakers to Combat Antisemitism

3 days ago

Opinion: How Urban Renewal Ruined Everything

3 days ago

California Wine Squeezed Dry: Insiders Say It’s Time to Pull up Acreage

3 days ago

Alabama Mercedes Employees Overwhelmingly Vote Against Joining Union, Slowing UAW Effort in South

3 days ago

Stock Market Today: Dow Finishes Above 40,000 to Cap Wall Street’s Latest Winning Week

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend