Bannon associate Brian Kolfage sentenced to more than four years for Trump border wall fraud

Prosecutors say US Air Force veteran misued $350,000 of donations meant for wall on southern border

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Wednesday 26 April 2023 14:16 EDT

Related video: Construction halted on Trump’s border wall

Steve Bannon associate Brian Kolfage has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for his role in defrauding donors to help privately build Donald Trump’s southern border wall.

Kolfage, a US Air Force veteran who lost his legs and right hand in a rocket attack in Iraq, pleaded guilty last year to misappropriating more than $350,000 from the “We Build the Wall” campaign.

The 41-year-old was sentenced to 51 months in prison at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday.

Brian Kolfage taking in the Veterans Day parade in New York in 2014

Prosecutors said that he spent the money on cosmetic surgery, boat payments and jewellery. In addition, he also pleaded guilty to tax charges.

Andrew Badolato, 58, another former Bannon associate, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison at the hearing, reported Reuters.

“While they were publicly promising that 100 per cent of donated funds would go towards construction of a southern border wall, and that Kolfage would take no money, the defendants privately arranged to steal donor money to compensate Kolfage,” prosecutors wrote before his sentencing.

Bannon, Mr Trump’s former White House strategist, was also charged in the scheme but later received a presidential pardon in the waning hours of his single term in office.

Donald Trump participates in a ceremony commemorating the 200th mile of border wall at the international border with Mexico in San Luis, Arizona, June 23, 2020.

However, the 69-year-old was indicted by New York state prosecutors in Manhattan last September on money laundering and conspiracy charges over wall fraud, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Presidential pardons only cover federal crimes and not ones prosecuted by the states.

Federal prosecutors had asked for Kolfage to serve 51 months behind bars, while his lawyers had asked for three years of home detention because of his medical needs.

“The fraud perpetrated by Mr Kolfage and Mr Badolato went well beyond ripping off individual donors,” US District Judge Analisa Torres said as she sentenced the men. “They hurt us all by eroding the public’s faith in the political process.”

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