2 Florida men sentenced for role in ‘We Build the Wall’ scam
Brian Kolfage leaves federal court. Image via AP.

Prosecutors say Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato raised $25M with Steve Bannon, but never built a wall.

Two Florida men involved in a scam raising private donations for a never-built wall will spend years in prison.

A U.S. district court judge sentenced Brian Kolfage of Miramar Beach to 51 months after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and other charges stemming from his 2019 tax filings. The judge sentenced Andrew Badolato of Sarasota to 36 months.

Both were tied to a “We Build the Wall” campaign co-founded by Steve Bannon, a top political advisor to former President Donald Trump. The effort raised more than $25 million from donors nationwide, but none of that went to an effort to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato abused the trust of donors to We Build the Wall and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to line their own pockets,” said U.S. District Attorney Damian Williams of New York. “The defendants have now been held accountable for their criminal conduct.”

Prosecutors say the figures involved in the fundraising scheme pocketed the money raised.

In his plea, Kolfage admitted to illicitly receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for a number of organizations, including “We Build the Wall.” The money was siphoned directly to his personal bank account. He then failed to report the income to the IRS, and used it to pay for a boat, luxury SUV, jewelry and elective cosmetic surgery, prosecutors said.

“Mr. Kolfage deliberately and egregiously side-stepped his legal duty to pay taxes when he devised an elaborate scheme to hide income from his nonprofit organization, We Build the Wall,” said IRS-CI Special Agent in Charge Brian Payne.

“Kolfage repeatedly falsely claimed he would not take a salary and preyed on the generosity of hundreds of thousands of donors through his vast online fundraising scam. Today’s sentencing should serve as evidence that this type of blatant disregard for the rules and obligations that govern nonprofit fundraising will not be tolerated.”

Badolato pleaded guilty only to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Once Kolfage serves prison time, he will stay under supervised release for three years and has to pay more than $143,000. That’s on top of millions in forfeitures and restitution after the scheme to raise money for a wall.

Kolfage, an Air Force veteran who lost three limbs during his service in the Iraq war, pleaded guilty last year, according to the Associated Press.

“The United States relies on the honest payment of taxes to defend our country and maintain its operations,” said U.S. District Attorney Jason Coody, top prosecutor for the North District of Florida.

“With the assistance of our dedicated law enforcement partners, we are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who falsely misrepresent their income — whether by traditional evasion or the filing of fraudulent documents to further their criminal schemes. This sentence should serve as a significant deterrent to such illegal conduct.”

Bannon previously pleaded not guilty to stealing $1 million in the scam. Trump pardoned Bannon shortly before leaving office last year.

Court filings say Badolato and Kolfage conspired with Bannon and with Timothy O’Shea, a codefendant still awaiting sentencing. O’Shea was convicted in a trial of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and obstruction of justice. He is scheduled for sentencing in June.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Earl Pitts American

    April 26, 2023 at 6:36 pm

    Good evening America,
    These men were dook 4 brains leftist criminals who faked their way into the honorable charity.
    That is why I, Earl Pitts American, authorized the Judge to ” Throw The Book At Them “.
    Thank you America
    Earl Pitts “Man Of Integrity” American

    • Elliott Offen

      April 26, 2023 at 6:40 pm

      You’re a fkn lying sack of balls. It doesn’t say anything about them being leftists. You’re another Mike Lindell troll and Alex Jones nut case. You’ll be beaten in the streets one of these days. I know the type.

      • Earl Pitts American

        April 26, 2023 at 6:47 pm

        Good evening My Main Man Smelliott,
        You are doing such a great job as my contraian follow up poster. You always come up with the perfect fake leftist wacky replies specially designed to make me, Earl Pitts American look like a genius!!!
        Keep up the great work my main man Smelliott,
        Earl Pitts American

        • Elliott Offen

          April 26, 2023 at 7:28 pm

          Fake my azz.. he’s not a leftist. You’re a lying sack of sh**, far right troll. That and a dumb dumb troll.. troll with stupidity to try and obtain a smack. Just a gd whacko.

  • Elliott Offen

    April 26, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    Just one of many schemes spun off from the Trump scam. Trump himself raised money with the phoney Stop the Steal “send me money” scam. He knew he was fkt and not coming back but he lied and groped for money nonetheless. It’s all about the confidence game with Trump. He ran to cut his own taxes and scam stupid people. That’s how he enjoys himself.

  • Earl Pitts American

    April 26, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks again Smelliott
    That is perfect to keep our dook 4 brains leftist readership off balance. Right now all dook 4 brains readers are going crazy(er) trying to get Alexis to verify your great head fake post.

    Thanks Smelliott as I always say You Are The Best,
    Earl Pitts American

    • Elliott Offen

      April 26, 2023 at 7:31 pm

      You’re what they call a dumb dumb troll..act stupid and spew complete gibberish and unintelligible nonsense just to pizz people off. Problem is, it doesn’t work. You just waste everyone’s time vandalizing the website and reinforce your own stupidity. You can’t be taken seriously.

    • Elliott Offen

      April 26, 2023 at 9:20 pm

      You’re a piece of sht. Seek help for your mental problems you ape.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704