© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: United States Air Force Senior Airman Brian Kolfage Jr attends Veterans Day parade on 5th Avenue in New York in 2014
By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Brian Kolfage, the U.S. Air Force veteran charged alongside former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon with defrauding donors in a scheme to build the president’s signature wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, is scheduled to appear before a judge by videoconference on Monday.
Federal prosecutors on Aug. 20 accused Bannon, Kolfage and two other defendants of defrauding donors through a $25 million crowdfunding campaign called “We Build the Wall.” Bannon and Kolfage used hundreds of thousands of dollars of that money to cover personal expenses, according to the charges.
Bannon, 66, has pleaded not guilty.
As a top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign and later White House chief strategist, Bannon helped articulate the “America First” right-wing populism and fierce opposition to immigration that have been hallmarks of Trump’s 3-1/2 years in office.
Kolfage, 38, is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres in Manhattan, according to the docket.
Kolfage lost both legs and his right hand in a 2004 rocket attack in Iraq.
Two other men charged with taking part in the scheme – Andrew Badolato, 56, and Timothy Shea, 49 – are also expected to enter not guilty pleas on Monday.
In a court filing last week, prosecutors asked the judge to warn Kolfage and the other defendants against making “extrajudicial statements” that could taint the jury pool, citing what they called a “steady stream” of often “highly inflammatory posts” by Kolfage on social media.
The posts included descriptions of the case as a “witch hunt” and a political effort targeting Trump supporters, including donors to “We Build the Wall.”
“This is #WAR for control of the most powerful country in the world,” Kolfage posted on Aug. 23, accompanied by a photo of Bannon emerging from court.
Trump has said he felt “very badly” about the charges against Bannon, whom he fired from his White House post in 2017, but added that he had not dealt with his former adviser for “literally years.”
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