The co-founder of the “We Build The Wall” project aimed at raising money for a border wall pleaded guilty to charges in a case that once included former President Donald Trump's adviser Steve Bannon.
The plea Thursday, April 21 by Brian Kolfage came just weeks before a scheduled trial.
A guilty plea Thursday, April 21 by co-defendant financier Andrew Badolato in the case during the same electronic hearing meant that only one of the four defendants originally charged will go to trial as scheduled next month.
Bannon was pardoned by Trump just before he left office.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, in May 2019, FDACS opened an investigation into the charity known as “We Build The Wall.”
Upon further investigation, the Department’s Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement subsequently referred the investigation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
On August 20, 2020, the U.S. Southern District of New York unsealed an indictment charging Brian Kolfage, Stephen Bannon, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea regarding the “We Build The Wall” charity.
Following precedent, and pursuant to s. 496.4191, Florida Statutes, the Department suspended the charity registration for “We Build The Wall.”
“As Florida’s consumer protection agency and charity regulator, we take accusations of fraud and charity abuse very seriously. We’re grateful to the U.S. Department of Justice and the federal and state partners who helped investigate this case, including FDACS’ Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement. I hope this guilty plea sends a strong message that anyone who attempts to defraud the people of Florida will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement Wednesday.