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Bannon Now Facing NY Fraud Charges After Presidential Pardon

Former White House adviser and right-wing firebrand Steve Bannon, who dodged federal charges in a charity fraud case thanks to a last-minute presidential pardon, surrendered to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on a similar state charge. A six-count indictment charged Bannon with money laundering, conspiracy and scheming to defraud for his alleged role in We Build the Wall, a group that raised at least $15 million to construct a barrier along the border with Mexico but skimmed the donations, Politico reports. Donors were publicly told that the group's president and CEO, Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, would not be compensated for his efforts. Through a company he controlled, Bannon allegedly planned to pay Kolfage by moving money from We Build The Wall. Bannon pleaded not guilty. “The simple truth is that it is a crime to profit off the backs of donors by making false pretenses,” Bragg said on Thursday. “We are here to say today in one voice that in Manhattan and in New York you will be held accountable for the defrauding of donors.”

In 2020, Trump granted a pardon that prevented Bannon from being charged by federal prosecutors who accused him of pocketing some $1 million in donations, and using it to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own personal expenses. Because presidential pardons cannot protect Bannon from a state prosecution, former Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance opened a state investigation that Bragg continued. Kolfage and another federal co-defendant pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy. A mistrial was declared in a third alleged co-conspirator’s trial when a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. Federal prosecutors said the group raised over $25 million, but the state’s indictment referred to about $15 million. The state did not allege Bannon used donations to cover personal expenses, as federal prosecutors had.

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