Donald Trump aide charged in border wall rip-off

Donald Trump aide charged in border wall rip-off

Donald Trump aide charged in border wall rip-off

Former high Trump White Home advisor Steve Bannon was criminally charged in New York on Thursday with a scheme to fraudulently funnel and obscure wage funds to the CEO of a non-profit fundraising effort to construct a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Manhattan District Lawyer Alvin Bragg Jr. mentioned that Bannon “acted because the architect of a multi-million greenback scheme to defraud 1000’s of donors throughout the nation — together with a whole bunch of Manhattan residents.”

Bragg mentioned that Bannon, “We Construct the Wall” Chief Government Officer Brian Kolfage and others concerned in that marketing campaign had repeatedly claimed that Kolfage wouldn’t be paid “a penny” for his work.

“However as an alternative of pennies, [Kolfage] obtained greater than $250,000 in a wage fund by donations,” Bragg mentioned.

“At the very least $140,000 of which, we allege, was laundered by Stephen Bannon,” mentioned Bragg, who spoke a number of hours after Bannon surrendered at Manhattan Prison Courtroom to face a grand jury indictment, which additionally charged WeBuildtheWall Inc.

The district legal professional mentioned that Bannon all through 2019 directed the We Construct the Wall marketing campaign to pay a non-profit that Bannon managed “tens of 1000’s of {dollars} at a time.”

“Bannon’s not-for-profit then paid a wage to [Kolfage], thereby obscuring the supply of the funds, in direct contradiction to the numerous guarantees made by Bannon, We Construct the Wall, and different associates on this scheme,” Bragg mentioned.

A handcuffed Bannon, 68, appeared later Thursday in courtroom for arraignment on six prison counts, which embrace cash laundering, conspiracy and scheme to defraud.

He pleaded not responsible by way of his lawyer, David Schoen.

Manhattan District Lawyer Alvin Bragg speaks at a information convention after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s White Home chief strategist Steve Bannon arrived to give up, in New York, U.S., September 8, 2022. 

Caitlin Ochs | Reuters

A prosecutor requested Choose Juan Merchan to order Bannon, as a situation of his launch on bail to right away give up any passports and to not apply for any new passports in the course of the case.

“He is not going wherever,” Schoen mentioned as he agreed to these circumstances, which have been imposed by the decide.

“He intends to combat these prices all the way in which,” the lawyer mentioned.

Merchan ordered Bannon to return to courtroom on Oct. 3 for a standing listening to, and mentioned he anticipated Bannon to look as nicely for all subsequent proceedings.

Bannon faces a possible most sentence of 5 to fifteen years in jail if convicted of cash laundering, essentially the most critical cost within the indictment. He faces two counts of that cost.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s White Home chief strategist Steve Bannon stands to have his handcuffs eliminated for his arraignment on the New York Prison Courthouse in New York, U.S., September 8, 2022 on this courtroom sketch.

Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

The brand new indictment comes greater than two years after Bannon was arrested on federal prices that he and three different males defrauded donors who gave $25 million or extra to fund the We Construct the Wall marketing campaign. That marketing campaign supported the intention of then-President Donald Trump to construct a wall alongside the southern border of the USA.

Trump pardoned Bannon in that federal case on his final night time earlier than leaving workplace in January 2021.

Presidential pardons solely apply to federal crimes, and don’t defend folks from prosecution on state prices like those Bannon now faces in Manhattan.

Kolfage and one other man, Andrew Badolato, pleaded responsible to federal prices associated to the wall scheme in April. They’re scheduled to be sentenced in December.

The federal trial of a 3rd defendant in that case, Timothy Shea, ended with a deadlocked jury in June. Shea is scheduled to be retried subsequent month.

Not one of the three males in that federal case have been charged in Thursday’s indictment in opposition to Bannon.

Steve Bannon, former advisor to former President Donald Trump arrives on the NY District Attorneys workplace to show himself in on September 08, 2022 in New York Metropolis.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Photographs

New York Lawyer Common Letitia James, whose workplace participated within the investigation, mentioned, “There can’t be one algorithm for on a regular basis folks and one other for the rich and highly effective – all of us should play by the identical guidelines and should obey the regulation.”

“Mr. Bannon took benefit of his donors’ political beliefs to safe hundreds of thousands of {dollars} which he then misappropriated. Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to counterpoint himself and his mates,” James mentioned.

As he walked into Manhattan Prison Courtroom on Thursday morning, Bannon informed a crowd of reporters and gawkers that the brand new prosecution in opposition to him is politically motivated.

“That is an irony, on the very day the mayor of this metropolis has a delegation down on the border, they’re persecuting folks right here,” Bannon shouted over quite a few hecklers jeering him.

He was referring to New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams having dispatched a gaggle of officers to the southern border earlier this week to fulfill with Border Patrol brokers. That journey was a part of an ongoing feud the Democrat Adams has with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, who has despatched buses crammed with migrants to New York Metropolis.

One onlooker yelled at Bannon: “Cease hurting America, you greasy, two-bit grifter!”

Bannon in July was convicted in U.S. District Courtroom of Washington, D.C., of two counts of contempt of Congress. That case stemmed from his refusal to testify earlier than the choose Home committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by Trump supporters.

“We count on that case to be turned over on enchantment,” Schoen mentioned Thursday throughout Bannon’s arraignment in New York.

Earlier this week, Bannon informed NBC Information that New York authorities “determined to pursue phony prices in opposition to me 60 days earlier than the midterm election.”

“That is nothing greater than a partisan political weaponization of the prison justice system,” he mentioned.