WASHINGTON — «We Build the Wall» campaign fundraisers Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato were sentenced to prison Wednesday for their role in defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors and stealing the proceeds, the Justice Department said.
Kolfage was sentenced to 51 months in prison, just over four years, and Badolato was sentenced to three years in prison. Kolfage and Badolato pleaded guilty in April of last year to one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud in the donor scheme. The offense carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The two also received three years of supervised release. Kolfage, 41, was ordered to forfeit more than $17.8 million and pay more than $2 million in restitution. Badolato, 58, must forfeit more than $1.4 million and pay the same amount in restitution.
U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres also ordered the forfeiture of more than $1.3 million in funds held by «We Build the Wall» and property in New Mexico, where the group had begun building part of a wall, according to the news release. of the Department of Justice.
«The fraud perpetrated by Mr. Kolfage and Mr. Badolato went far beyond defrauding individual donors,» Torres said in the statement, noting that the case would have a «chilling effect» on political donations. «They hurt all of us,» Torres said.
Kolfage and Badolato worked with Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist in the Trump administration, to organize a crowdfunding effort to build a wall on the U.S.-presidency border.
«Mr. Kolfage respects the Court and its determination, but we disagree that 51 months was appropriate for this American hero,» Kolfage’s attorneys said in a statement to NBC News, referring to their client’s service as a veteran and triple “We are disappointed that the Tribunal has not materially shifted based not only on Brian’s repentance and extraordinary service to our country, but also based on [on the Bureau of Prisons’] appalling track record in providing necessary medical care to inmates.”
Badolato’s attorney did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
Although Trump pardoned Bannon from federal charges for his role in «We Build the Wall,» Bannon was indicted in September 2022 in New York state on charges including money laundering and conspiracy to defraud donors. He pleaded not guilty in both the federal and New York cases.
«Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato abused the trust of We Build the Wall donors and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to line their own pockets,» US Attorney Damian Williams said in a news release. «The defendants have now been held accountable for their criminal conduct.»
The crowdfunding campaign ultimately raised more than $25 million. Despite Kolfage’s claim that all funds would go toward his mission and purpose, the defendants used the money for their own personal use and took steps to conceal it through the use of false invoices and contracts, the Justice Department said.
His co-defendant Timothy Shea, 52, was also convicted on multiple charges related to the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 13, according to the Justice Department.
zoe richards contributed.