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Now We Know When We Build the Wall Co-Founder’s Tax Fraud Trial Will Begin


The founder of the charity We Build the Wall will stand trial this summer for allegedly failing to report to the Internal Revenue Service money he made off an initiative to crowdfund a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Brian Kolfage, who faces fraud and money laundering charges related to the same non-profit in Manhattan, will face his first criminal reckoning over the fallout on Aug. 2 in a federal court in Florida.

U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers set the trial date on Wednesday, the same day the judge issued an order approving Kolfage’s pre-trial release.

Assistants for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss informed U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres of that development on Thursday. Judge Torres is presiding over the related case in New York.

Kolfage, a military veteran who founded the non-profit, was originally indicted in the Southern District of New York in August 2020 with three other men: former Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon and the charity’s other officials Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea.

Before leaving office, Trump only pardoned Bannon, even though the other three men were charged with the same scheme. Prosecutors claim that they promised every penny of the $25 million crowdfunding project would go to border-wall construction.

Instead, Bannon pocketed at least $1 million of the money, and Kolfage took $350,000 plus went on a spending spree to buy a Jupiter Marine yacht called the Warfighter, a Range Rover SUV, a golf cart, jewelry, and cosmetic surgery, prosecutors say.

Last month on May 6, federal prosecutors in Florida charged Kolfage separately for tax offenses, stemming from his alleged failure to report hundreds of thousands of dollars that he received from multiple organizations during 2019.

One of those entities was We Build the Wall, prosecutors say.

“The United States relies on the payment of taxes to defend our country and maintain its operations,” Acting United States Attorney Jason Coody said in a statement last month. “We will investigate and prosecute those who falsely misrepresent their income – whether by traditional evasion or failing to disclose charitable contributions diverted to their personal gain.”

Kolfage is charged in the Florida case with one count of filing a false tax return and one count of wire fraud.

His Manhattan indictment charges him with fraud and money laundering related offenses.

Prosecutors recently proposed a Nov. 15 trial date for those alleged offenses.

(Screenshot from YouTube)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."