Some of Steve Bannon’s allies as part of the “We Build the Wall” campaign were sentenced to jail this week.
Andrew Badolato was sentenced to spend three years behind bars, while Brian Kolfage was sentenced to spend 51 months behind bars for their roles in defrauding donors and also stealing the proceeds of the money that was donated to the organization, according to the Department of Justice.
Both of those defendants pleaded guilty to charges against them last April. Ultimately, the charge they faced was one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The maximum sentence for that charge is 20 years in jail.
In addition to the prison time, both Badolato and Kolfage will face three years of supervised release. Kolfage has to pay $2 million in restitution and must forfeit more than $17.8 million. Badolato has to pay that same restitution amount and forfeit more than $1.4 million.
In addition to those individual penalties, Analisa Torres, the U.S. district judge overseeing the case, ordered that more than $1.3 million that the We Build the Wall organization holds must be forfeited. The DOJ also said that the group has to forfeit property it had in New Mexico where it had started to construct a portion of the border wall with Mexico.
In a press release issued by the DOJ, Torres said:
“The fraud perpetrated by Mr. Kolfage and Mr. Badolato went well beyond defrauding individual donors.”
Those two defendants worked alongside the former Trump administration chief strategist, Steve Bannon, for the organization. It was a crowdfunded effort that was meant to raise funds that would construct a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The border wall was one of the signature policies of Donald Trump during his campaign for president in 2016 and his time in the White House.
Bannon received a pardon for federal charges that were brought against him in the We Build the Wall case. However, he was indicted last September on state charges in New York that included scheming to defraud donors and laundering money. He has since pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Bannon is still awaiting his trial in that case.
Since Kolfage and Badolato – along with another defendant, Tim Shea – didn’t receive a pardon from Trump, the federal case against them could proceed, and they were sentenced to jail this week because of it.
Shea, a businessman from Colorado, is scheduled to be sentenced in his case on June 13. He was convicted in his case on multiple counts related to the same scheme.
The DOJ said that the We Build the Wall campaign raised more than $25 million in donations. Kolfage asserted that all funds that were raised would go toward building the border wall, the DOJ alleged that the defendants ultimately took the money to use for personal gain, and then took multiple steps to conceal their actions by creating fake contracts and invoices.