Steve Bannon, Former Trump White House Adviser, Arrested For Fraud In Border Wall Construction Scam
Former President Donald Trump top adviser Steve Bannon was arrested and charged with fraud on Thursday for using funds contributed by donors to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border for personal expenses. According to a Justice Department statement, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged Bannon with wire fraud, conspiracy against the U.S. government and money laundering.
Bannon was charged alongside three others in a fraudulent scheme related to lying to donors who supported a private construction project to build sections of Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Bannon was arrested early Thursday in Connecticut while on a yacht belonging to a Chinese billionaire by U.S. postal inspectors. Later, he was transferred to Manhattan, where he faced charges in a two-count indictment in the federal district court, alongside three other defendants associated with siphoning money from the nonprofit. His case is expected to be heard by a magistrate judge late Thursday night.
Prosecutors alleged that Bannon has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of donor funds on personal expenses. The embezzled funds, totaling up to around $1 million, have been accrued over several months. Bannon’s “Build the Wall” program has collected over $25 million from donors.
In a statement Thursday, Audrey Strauss, the acting United States attorney in Manhattan, claimed that Bannon and three other defendants “[had] defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction.”
Activists and business partners Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, were also charged by federal prosecutors Thursday.
The president has been careful to distance himself from Bannon’s plan, telling reporters at the White House that he felt “very badly” about the allegations.
“I feel very bad about these allegations,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday.