Attorney General Letitia James and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg formally announced Thursday the indictment of former chief strategist Stephen Bannon and Florida not-for-profit corporation “We Build the Wall, Inc.”
The Trump-era White House aid surrendered himself to authorities earlier that morning, giving a thumbs up in defiance as he was met by a legion of press cameras.
Bannon is reportedly facing criminal charges for his role in allegedly defrauding donors to build a wall along the Mexico border which were instead used to benefit himself and his peers. The group dubbed “We Build the Wall” is said to have raised some $15 million. Bannon pleaded not guilty. The charges include two counts of money laundering in the second degree, two counts of conspiracy in the fourth degree, one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree, and one count of conspiracy in the fifth degree.
The Attorney General and Manhattan DA gathered on the 8th floor of 80 Centre Street to declare the indictment.
“It is a crime to turn a profit by lying to donors, and in New York, you will be held accountable,” District Attorney Bragg said. “As alleged, Stephen Bannon acted as the architect of a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud thousands of donors across the country – including hundreds of Manhattan residents. Each and every day, my office works to ensure that when New Yorkers hand over money, they know where it’s going and who it’s going to – without any smokescreens or false promises. I thank Attorney General James for her partnership, as well as the numerous attorneys, investigators, analysts, and so many more from both my Office and the Attorney General’s Office who have worked so diligently to bring today’s indictment.”
Bannon allegedly said on multiple occasions that executives at “We Build the Wall” would not receive a penny from donations gathered, which both James and Bragg say they have evidence to the contrary. The president of “We Build the Wall” was paid $250,000 in 2019. Payments were also found to be obscured through third-party entities controlled by Bannon facilitating more than $100,000 in salary payments.
According to the pair, Bannon willfully took money from hundreds of New Yorkers under false pretenses knowing that the money would not be going to his organization. Bannon allegedly not only benefited members of the group but also himself.
“There cannot be one set of rules for everyday people and another for the wealthy and powerful – we all must play by the same rules and must obey the law,” Attorney General James said. “Mr. Bannon took advantage of his donors’ political views to secure millions of dollars which he then misappropriated. Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to enrich himself and his friends. We will continue to take on fraudulent behavior in every corner of society, including white collar criminals, because no one is above the law. I thank District Attorney Bragg for his close partnership on this matter and commend the dedicated teams at the Attorney General’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for their hard work.”
If found guilty, Bannon could face jail time.