Two of the defendants in the “Build The Wall” fraud cases that involved Steve Bannon entered guilty pleas in federal court on Thursday.
Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, making false statements on a tax return, and wire fraud in connection with filing a tax return.
Bannon Trump’s longtime advisor faced charges as well in the case; Trump pardoned Bannon in the final hours of his presidency in 2020.
Prosecutors alleged that some of the money sent to We Build the Wall a group raising funds to pay for a wall on the Mexican border was diverted to nonprofits linked to Bannon.
In court in New York on Thursday, the pair admitted told the public that 100% of donated funds would go toward building a wall on the southern US border.
Kolfage, the president of We Build the Wall, also claimed he would take no income from the company. He admitted to planning to keep a large sum of the donated money for himself and other We Build the Wall associates.
Prosecutors said the Kolfage paid himself $200,000 a month using donations during the scheme and also used supporters’ money on luxuries like jewelry, an SUV, and payments for a boat.
Kolfage also admitted to underreporting said donations on his tax returns to avoid paying taxes.
Both apologized for their actions and admitted they knew what they were doing was wrong at the time.
The company raised $25 million in donations, according to the indictment, and was able to build a part of a wall in Southern New Mexico.
Bannon still faces unrelated charges that he defied Congressby refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.