The co-founder of the “We Build The Wall” project aimed at raising money for a border wall pleaded guilty last Thursday to charges in a case that once included former President Donald Trump’s adviser Steve Bannon.
The group built a $6 million section of the wall close to the border by Mount Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, New Mexico.
The indictment, filed in August 2020, alleges that Brian Kolfage “falsely assured the public” that he would “not take a penny in salary or compensation” and that 100 percent of all donated funds would go to building the wall. “We Build the Wall” raised more than $25 million from thousands of donors.
Kolfage admitted to pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars while promising all donations would pay for the wall. To induce donors to donate to the campaign, Kolfage repeatedly and falsely assured the public that he would “not take a penny in salary or compensation” and that “100% of the funds raised . . . will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose.”
His plea came a month before a trial in a case that began in dramatic fashion in August 2020, when Bannon was pulled from a luxury yacht off the coast of Connecticut and arrested on allegations that he and three others ripped off donors trying to fund a southern border wall.
Bannon was pardoned by Trump just before he left office last year. Bannon had pleaded not guilty to charges he pocketed over $1 million, using some of the money to secretly pay Kolfage, a 39-year-old Air Force veteran who lost both legs in a mortar attack in Iraq.
A guilty plea came Thursday by codefendant financier Andrew Badolato, 57, in the case during the same remotely conducted electronic hearing before U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan.
Plea agreement sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 6.