An indictment by acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss and Philip R. Bartlett inspector-in-charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Postal Inspection Service led to the subsequent arrest of Steve Bannon and three other suspects Thursday, Aug. 20, the Justice Department said. They are reportedly accused of diverting funds raised in a donation campaign for the construction of a border wall.
Former White House counsel Steve Bannon was arrested Thursday, Aug. 20, in New York City for his alleged role in the theft of donations from We Build the Wall, an online fundraising campaign aimed at raising money for the construction of the southern border fence, officials said.
Strauss and Bartlett charged the four for their alleged roles in defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors that raised more than $25 million, the Justice Department reported. They were arrested Thursday morning and will appear at an inquest in front of the judge in the afternoon.
Strauss said, “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 that money would be spent on construction.”
According to the Justice Department, Bartlett said the four allegedly committed fraud when they misrepresented the actual use of the donated funds. In doing so, not only would they have lied to the donors, but they would have deliberately chosen to hide their embezzlement by creating false invoices and accounts to launder the donations and cover up their crimes.
Bartlett said, “This case should serve as a warning to other con artists that no one is above the law, not even a disabled war veteran or a millionaire political strategist.”
The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, and there is also a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
So far all the charges constitute mere accusations, and the evidence presented has yet to be proven. By law, the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty by legal authority through a trial.