Written bySiddhant Pandey
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was arrested on Thursday on charges that he and three of his associates defrauded the donors of the 'We Build the Wall' fundraising campaign.
Here are more details.
Bannon (66), was arrested along with Andrew Badolato (56), Timothy Shea (49), and 38-year-old Iraq war veteran Brian Kolfage on Thursday morning.
Prosecutors allege that the accused raised over $25 million through the 'We Build the Wall' online campaign, however, some of that was used for personal gain.
The four were indicted by investigators for the Southern District of New York.
All four will be presented in court on Thursday. Bannon will be presented in the Southern District of New York.
Kolfage will be presented before US Magistrate Judge Hope T Cannon in the Northern District of Florida, Badolato before US Magistrate Judge Thomas Wilson in the Middle District of Florida, and Shea before US Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix in the District of Colorado.
The four accused have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each of these charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said the defendants collectively received "hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds" which they used in a "manner inconsistent with the organization's public representations."
Strauss said the donors had repeatedly been assured that Kolfage—the face of the fundraiser—would not benefit.
The money was allegedly routed through a non-profit and a shell company under Shea's control, among other routes.
Philip R. Bartlett—Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service (which assisted in the investigation)—said, "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."
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