Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon pleads not guilty after being indicted on money laundering and fraud charges (Video)

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s ally, who managed the former US President’s 2016 campaign and served in his administration as an adviser, has surrendered to New York state authorities on charges that he laundered money and committed fraud.

 

The New York State justice department is accusing Bannon of lying to people who contributed to a nonprofit set up to build a portion of a wall along the southern border. This is the second time that Bannon has been indicted for crimes related to that charity, but the first time around, he was pardoned by former President Trump. 

He pleaded not guilty on Thursday,  September 8 to money laundering and conspiracy charges for allegedly deceiving donors to an effort to help Trump build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

Former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon pleads not guilty after being indicted on money laundering and fraud charges (Video)

Bannon, 68, was handcuffed when he came into a New York state court in Manhattan. He was released without bail after his lawyer David Schoen entered the plea on his behalf.

 

Prosecutors accused Bannon of defrauding donors who contributed more than $15 million to a private fundraising drive, known as “We Build the Wall,” for the former Republican president’s signature wall.

 

According to the indictment, Bannon promised donors that all their money would go toward the wall, but concealed his role in diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars to the drive’s chief executive, who had promised to take no salary.

 

The chief executive has been identified in court papers as Brian Kolfage, an Air Force veteran who pleaded guilty in April to federal wire fraud conspiracy and tax charges, and is awaiting sentencing.

“It is a crime to profit off the backs of donors by making false pretenses,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said at a joint press conference with New York Attorney General Letitia James, who worked with him on the probe.

Bannon was charged with two counts of money laundering, three counts of conspiracy and one count of scheming to defraud.

If convicted, he could face up to 15 years in prison for money laundering, though prison is not mandatory.

 

The indictment also concerns some of the conduct underlying an August 2020 federal prosecution of Bannon, Kolfage and two other men.

Bannon pleaded not guilty in that case, which ended abruptly in January 2021 after Trump pardoned him in the final hours of his presidency.