Feds charge ex-Trump official Steve Bannon with criminal fraud in crowd-funded border wall campaign
Steve Bannon (Photo: Screen capture)

Former Trump White House political strategist Steve Bannon has been charged with criminal fraud for his role in a crowd-funded campaign to build President Donald Trump's wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced on Thursday that Bannon and several other leaders of the ‘We Build The Wall’ online fundraising campaign have been indicted for defrauding "hundreds of thousands" of donors.

"As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction," said acting SDNY U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. "While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle."

As for Bannon's role in the scheme, SDNY alleges that he funneled "over $1 million from We Build the Wall" into a nonprofit organization that he personally controlled. According to SDNY, Bannon then used at least some of that money "to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars" in his own personal expenses.

In total, Bannon has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.