The orchestrated scheme for personal gain – funneled through border wall campaign
Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former top adviser was charged Thursday, August 20, 2020 for fraud. ‘We Build the Wall’ campaign was a private crowdfunding account launched via GoFundMe and meant to aid in Trump’s initiatives for constructing the wall barrier between Mexico and the US border. The crowdfunding campaign raised more than $25,000,000.
What Bannon allegedly did was divert funds and cheat thousands of donors, while making the pledge that the money would be set aside and used only for building the wall. The former adviser is said to have siphoned money from the project, in amounts totaling more than $1 million dollars, which he directed towards his own personal expenses.
Bannon’s arrest took place (perhaps not too ironically) on a 150-foot, $35 million dollar yacht belonging to a Chinese billionaire named Guy Wengui. Bannon was not the only mastermind behind the alleged scam, three other men were involved in the scene to defraud donors: Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea. All of whom were also arrested August 20, 2020.
Click here to see the complete full 24 page indictment.
A surprising twist is that the U.S. Postal Service was involved in the arrests of Bannon and the other three men through the service’s inspection unit. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) has been around since 1872 and was created to fight against mail fraud and other mail related charges. The Postal inspectors much like FBI agents, carry weapons, make arrests, serve subpoenas and execute federal search warrants. In the case of Bannon, the USPS helped to deliver more than just the mail, it delivered a chance at some justice. And if you weren’t aware that USPS had a police unit, you are not alone.
During his arraignment, Bannon pleaded not guilty to both charges of wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. If found guilty the charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Very shortly afterwards, Bannon was released from custody on a $5 million bond. As he walked outside the courthouse, he could be heard saying to reporters:
“This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall.”
Bannon is just one among a handful (and growing) Trump advisers and associates that have been charged with federal crimes. On the list includes: Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen.
President Trump made it a point to quickly defend any association with Bannon saying he “didn’t know” anything about the private fundraising, calling it “inappropriate” while describing the unfolded news on his former advisor, as “a sad event”.
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