BY SARAH N. LYNCH AND JAN WOLFE
Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to a fundraising campaign to support the building of Trump’s promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan announced that Bannon was charged in an unsealed indictment along with several others including Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea for allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors through a $25 million crowdfunding campaign called “We Build the Wall.”
The donors thought the money would go toward helping to build a border wall, prosecutors said. But Kolfage, whom they described as the public face and founder of the operation, received thousands of dollars that he used to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Bannon, a prominent figure on the American political right, served as a campaign and White House adviser to Trump, who made the construction of a border wall a key campaign promise in 2016.
Kolfage is due to appear in federal court later on Thursday in Florida, while Bannon is set to appear in federal court in Manhattan. The other two defendants are due to appear in courts in the Middle District of Florida and Colorado.
A spokeswoman for Bannon could not be immediately reached for comment.
At least six other Trump associates have been prosecuted since the president took office in 2017.