Two founders of an online fundraising scheme to help former President Trump build a border wall were sentenced to prison Wednesday for participating in a fraud scheme that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors.
Brain Kolfage and Andrew Badolato were sentenced for their alleged involvement in the scheme, which siphoned the money from hundreds of thousands of people that donated to their “We Build the Wall” campaign. The campaign promised the donors that their funds would go toward the construction of a wall at the border with Mexico, which is part of Trump’s core platform.
The fundraising campaign raised more than $25,000,000 from thousands of donors, with Kolfage promising that “100% of the funds raised … will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose,” according to court documents. The court documents said this was false, alleging that Kolfage alone took more than $350,000 for personal funds.
Kolfage was sentenced to 51 months in prison, and Badolato was sentenced to 36 months in prison, according to a press release from the Southern District of New York U.S. attorney’s office. Kolfage and Badolato both pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, with Kolfage also pleading guilty to tax and wire fraud charges.
“Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato abused the trust of donors to We Build the Wall and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to line their own pockets,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “The defendants have now been held accountable for their criminal conduct.”
District Judge Analisa Torres also said at the sentencing that “the fraud perpetrated by Mr. Kolfage and Mr. Badolato went well beyond defrauding individual donors. They hurt us all,” the release stated.
Kolfage was ordered to three years of supervised release and to forfeit $17,872,106, as well as to pay restitution of $2,877,414, in addition to the prison sentence. Badolato was ordered to three years of supervised release and to forfeit $1,414,368 and pay restitution in the same amount.
Trump’s former top political adviser Steve Bannon was also allegedly involved in the scheme, but the case was halted after the former president pardoned him. He will likely stand trial for his alleged involvement in the scheme in November 2023.
The third co-founder, Timothy Shea, will have his sentencing on June 13 after being convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of justice.