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Will Stephen Bannon be found guilty of fraud?

Question

As reported by Al-Jazeera 21st August 2020:

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon, an architect of Donald Trump's 2016 election victory, was arrested on a yacht and pleaded not guilty on Thursday after being charged with defrauding donors in a scheme to help build the president's signature wall along the US-Mexico border.

The charges were contained in an indictment (PDF) unsealed in Manhattan federal court, which alleges Bannon and three others "orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors".

The indictment claims the "scheme" was related to an online crowdfunding campaign that claims to have raised more than $25m to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.

Allsides.com has the various versions of the story across media outlets.

The official charges are as follows:

  1. BRIAN KOLFAGE, STEPHEN BANNON, ANDREW BADOLATO, and TIMOTHY SHEA, the defendants, and others, orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors, including donors in the Southern District of New York, in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign ultimately known as “We Build The Wall” that raised more than $25,000,000 to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. To induce donors to donate to the campaign, KOLFAGE and BANNON - each of whom, as detailed herein, exerted significant control over We Build the Wall - repeatedly and falsely assured the public that KOLFAGE 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” because, as BANNON publicly stated, “we’re a volunteer organization.”

  2. Those representations were false. In truth, BRIAN KOLFAGE, STEPHEN BANNON, ANDREW BADOLATO, and TIMOTHY SHEA, the defendants, collectively received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds from We Build the Wall, which they each used in a manner inconsistent with the organization’s public representations. In particular, KOLFAGE covertly took more than $350,000 in funds that had been donated to We Build the Wall for his personal use, while BANNON, through a non-profit organization under his control (“Non-Profit-1”), received over $1,000,000 from We Build the Wall, which BANNON used to, among other things, secretly pay KOLFAGE and to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in BANNON’s personal expenses. To conceal the payments to KOLFAGE from We Build the Wall, KOLFAGE, BANNON, BADOLATO, and SHEA devised a scheme to route those payments from We Build the Wall to KOLFAGE indirectly through Non-Profit-1 and a shell company under SHEA’s control, among other avenues. They did so by using fake invoices and sham “vendor” arrangements, among other ways, to ensure, as KOLFAGE noted in a text message to BADOLATO, that his pay arrangement remained “confidential” and kept on a “need to know” basis.

Will Bannon be found guilty of at least one fraud charge?

  • The resolution concerns the first verdict. We may make another question about an eventual appealed case (seems likely).
  • Only the ones in this case are relevant. If Bannon is indicted with unrelated fraud charges, these are irrelevant for this question.
Categories:
Politics – US

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