July 24, 2024

Brian Kolfage, a US air force veteran and former associate of the Trump ally and adviser Steve Bannon, was sentenced on Wednesday to more than four years in prison after admitting to conspiring to defraud donors to a campaign to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, as promised by the former president.

Bannon, 69 and a former campaign chair and White House strategist for Trump, was also charged in the case but received a presidential pardon in the final hours of Trump’s term.

Bannon remains a prominent presence in far-right media and politics. In September, he was indicted in New York state court in Manhattan on money laundering and conspiracy charges over the planned wall. He pleaded not guilty. Trump’s pardon of Bannon covered federal crimes but not alleged state crimes.

Kolfage, 41, lost his legs and right hand in a rocket attack in Iraq. In the federal case, he pleaded guilty last year to misappropriating funds meant for the We Build the Wall campaign.

On Wednesday a US district judge, Analisa Torres, announced the 51-month sentence at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

Andrew Badolato, 58, another former Bannon associate, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.

“The fraud perpetrated by Mr Kolfage and Mr Badolato went well beyond ripping off individual donors,” Torres said. “They hurt us all by eroding the public’s faith in the political process.“

Badolato and Kolfage led the fundraising push alongside Bannon, Trump’s former campaign chair and White House strategist.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had recommended Kolfage spend 51 months in prison and Badolato 41.

Kolfage was accused of taking more than $350,000 and spending it on boat payments, jewelry and cosmetic surgery. He also pleaded guilty to tax charges.

Lawyers for Kolfage proposed he be sentenced to home detention, citing his medical needs. Badolato’s lawyers said three years of probation would have been sufficient for their client because he was less culpable.

Another defendant, 52-year-old Timothy Shea, was convicted in October. He is set to be sentenced in June.