Steve Bannon Might Still Get To Go To Jail After All!
Steve Bannon can run, but he can't hide.
Well, to be clear, as to whether Ol' Three Shirts can run, the jury is still out. But he can't hide from the grand jury in Manhattan, which is now perusing records from Wells Fargo and GoFundMe related to Bannon's alleged scam to crowdfund that border wall Mexico was supposed to pay for. This would be the same scam that netted Bannon a federal indictment courtesy of the Southern District of New York, only to see the charges against him vaporized in a January 19 presidential pardon. Naturally Bannon didn't bother to hit the old man up for a get-out-of-jail-free card for his alleged co-conspirator Brian Kolfage, a quadriplegic veteran, so presumably the federal case is ongoing.
If we might quote our own coverage of the Daddy Wallbux indictment for conning donors out of cash with the promise that all the money went for construction:
Despite Kolfage's assurances that "100% means 100% right? Board won't see any of that money!" the charity's board, headed by Bannon, immediately agreed to give Kolfage $100,000 upfront and then a further $20,000 monthly, routing the transactions through sham vendor companies.
When Kolfage noted that they were going to have to disclose the first $100,000 outlay to one of the shell companies on the charity's tax forms, [co-conspirator Andrew] Badolato texted "Better you than me lol." Which seems like acknowledgement that they were breaking the law, lol. But then Kolfage had the bright idea of paying the money to his wife for "media," so as not to arouse suspicion. So Kolfage started raking in the cash through a series of payments to vendors for "social media" work which was never performed. All told, Bannon channeled upwards of $1 million through a side non-profit, out of which he paid Kolfage $350,000 and used most of the rest for "personal expenses."
Badolato didn't get a pardon either, of course, which means they're probably still holding on to the assets of the company these geniuses set up for the scheme, subtly named "White Knights & Vultures LLC." (How high on your own supply do you have to be to call up your lawyer and say, "Hey, Stan, I need you to draw up articles of incorporation for a new company. It's called ... ?")
At the time, Bannon dismissed the charges as politically motivated, scoffing, "This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall."
But now CNN reports that "Prosecutors sent the subpoenas after Trump pardoned Bannon in late January for federal conspiracy crimes tied to the southern border-wall project, making Bannon among the Trump world figures — including the former president — subjects of criminal investigations by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance." And CNN says the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs is also investigating "We Build the Wall" to see if any of its state's residents wrote checks to these assholes. Because scamming donors based on false pretense isn't just a violation of federal law, it's also a state crime. Womp womp.
And remember how the charges Vance brought against Paul Manafort got tossed because of double jeopardy? Well, that's not an avenue open to Bannon, because his day of federal reckoning never came, thanks to his old pal Donny. Sucks to be you, Steve!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.