A Castle Rock man has been indicted and arrested with three other men, including former White House adviser Steve Bannon, on charges of fraud stemming from a campaign that raised millions to build a …
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A Castle Rock man has been indicted and arrested with three other men, including former White House adviser Steve Bannon, on charges of fraud stemming from a campaign that raised millions to build a southern border wall.
Timothy Shea, 49, of Castle Rock was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Both charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Brian Kolfage, 38, of Miramar Beach, Florida, Andrew Badolato, 56, of Sarasota, Florida, and Bannon, 66, of Washington D.C., face the same charges.
All four men were arrested on Aug. 20, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office Southern District of New York. Shea was scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristen L. Mix in Denver federal court that afternoon.
In the virtual court hearing, Shea was granted a $250,000 unsecured bond under numerous conditions. Shea can travel in Colorado and New York, where his court hearings will be held, but cannot travel internationally and must surrender any passports he possesses. He is also prohibited from raising any money for the We Build the Wall campaign or transferring money in accounts associated with the fundraiser.
Bannon is the best known of the men who were indicted. Bannon, former executive of conservative media outlet Breitbart News, was a leader of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and later served as chief strategist during the first year of the Trump presidency.
An indictment unsealed in New York alleges the men “orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors” through an online crowdfunding campaign called “We Build the Wall,” which raised more than $25 million.
The indictment alleges all four men “collectively received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds from We Build the Wall,” despite Bannon and Kolfage claiming the fundraiser was run by a volunteer organization and that Kolfage would “not take a penny in salary or compensation,” according to the indictment.
Shea allegedly controlled a shell company the men used to funnel We Build the Wall money to Kolfage, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges Kolfage took more than $350,000 in donations for personal use. Bannon controlled a nonprofit which he allegedly used to “secretly pay Kolfage and to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bannon's personal expenses,” the indictment says.
“To conceal the payments to Kolfage from We Build the Wall, Kolfage, Bannon, Badolato and Shea devised a scheme to route those payments from We Build the Wall to Kolfage indirectly through (Bannon's nonprofit) and a shell company under Shea's control, among other avenues,” the indictment says.
The men allegedly used fake invoices and “sham `vendor' arrangements” to make cover up the payments, according to the indictment.
The indictment says the fundraising leaders and the campaign's website falsely claimed to prospective donors that “100% of your donation” would be given to the government and if the wall was not built the fundraiser would “refund every single penny.”
Within one week of launching the fundraiser in December 2018, Kolfage and Shea raised $17 million, according to the indictment. The fundraiser also generated swift and intense scrutiny.
Denver's 9News began investigating the fundraiser in 2018 after a post office box in Castle Rock was listed as a donation site. Shea's wife, Amanda, told the news station at the time the couple helped created the GoFundMe with Kolfage.
The Sheas ran the back end of the campaign while Kolfage served as the fundraiser's face, she told 9News. Kolfage in 2018 refused to identify his Castle Rock "business associates" to The Denver Post and said they were not involved in the fundraising.
This is not the Sheas' first brush with controversy.
The couple also runs the Facebook page Top of the Rock, which last year drew criticism after posting that people could recieve free gun range passes if they signed a petition to recall Gov. Jared Polis at a local gun shop, DCF Guns.
Josh Barton, the vice president of sales and marketing for DCF Guns, told Colorado Community Media then that the gun shop had not intended to offer bribes, saying other community Facebook pages shared about the petition “and that's what stirred everything up.”
The Top of the Rock post was later edited to remove the offer of free range passes.
The incident prompted more than two dozen complaints with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, though a spokesperson for the 18th Judicial District Attorney's office said the Secretary of State never called for an investigation.
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