On Thursday, Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former adviser and an architect of his 2016 general election campaign, was charged with defrauding donors to a private fund-raising effort called We Build the Wall, which was intended to bolster the president’s initiative along the Mexican border.
According to a federal indictment unsealed in Manhattan, Mr. Bannon, working with a wounded Air Force veteran and a Florida venture capitalist, conspired to cheat hundreds of thousands of donors by falsely promising that their money had been set aside for new sections of the wall.
The fund-raising effort collected more than $25 million, and prosecutors said Mr. Bannon used nearly $1 million of it for personal expenses.
Mr. Bannon was arrested at 7:15 a.m. on a $35 million, 150-foot yacht belonging to one of his business associates.
Together with the Coast Guard, special agents from the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan and federal postal inspectors boarded the yacht off Westbrook, Conn., the officials said. Mr. Bannon, 66, was on deck, drinking coffee and reading a book, when the raid occurred.
At a brief arraignment on Thursday, Mr. Bannon pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. He was released from custody on a $5 million bond.
According to the authorities, Mr. Bannon hatched the plot to defraud the donors with three other men: Brian Kolfage, a 38-year-old Air Force veteran and triple amputee from Miramar Beach, Fla.; Andrew Badolato, 56, a venture capitalist from Sarasota, Fla.; and Timothy Shea, 49, of Castle Rock, Colo.
Categorised in: US News