CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (KDVR/AP) – Four people, including former White House adviser Steve Bannon and a Colorado man, were arrested Thursday on charges they ripped off donors to an online fundraising scheme “We Build The Wall.”
Timothy Shea, 49, of Castle Rock, Colorado, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
In addition to Bannon and Shea, Brian Kolfage of Miramar Beach, Florida, and Andrew Badolato of Sarasota, Florida, were also arrested and charged.
According to a release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, “Kolfage repeatedly and falsely assured the public that he would ‘not take a penny in salary or compensation’ and that ‘100% of the funds raised . . . will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose’ because, as Bannon publicly stated, ‘we’re a volunteer organization.'”
Prosecutors alleged the four actually received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds from We Build the Wall:
“In particular, Kolfage covertly took for his personal use more than $350,000 in funds that donors had given to We Build the Wall, while Bannon, through a non-profit organization under his control (“Non-Profit-1”), received over $1 million from We Build the Wall, at least some of which Bannon used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bannon’s personal expenses. To conceal the payments to Kolfage from We Build the Wall, Kolfage, Bannon, and Shea devised a scheme to route those payments from We Build the Wall to Kolfage indirectly through Non-Profit-1 and a shell company under Shea’s control, among other avenues. They did so by using fake invoices and sham “vendor” arrangements, among other ways, to ensure, as Kolfage noted in a text message to Badolato, that his pay arrangement remained “confidential” and kept on a “need to know” basis.”
Shea is set to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix in the District of Colorado.