War veteran charged with stealing from border wall campaign says claims are ‘politically motivated’

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The triple amputee Iraq veteran accused of stealing from the We Build The Wall campaign along with Steve Bannon and two others, has claimed the charges leveled against him are part of a ‘politically motivated’ scheme targeting Trump associates. 

Brian Kolfage, 38, is charged with stealing $350,000 from the multimillion-dollar GoFundMe account he set up in support of President Trump‘s wall initiative in 2018.

Federal prosecutors last month alleged the Purple Heart had siphoned some of the money to fund his and his wife’s lavish lifestyle and had spent it on boats, an SUV, plastic surgery, jewelry, home renovations and credit card debt.  

Kolfage on Saturday spoke out against the indictment in his first interview since his arrest, accusing federal prosecutors in Manhattan of fabricating the allegations as part of a political witch hunt. 

Brian Kolfage, 38, and his wife Ashley, 33, are accused of being the main beneficiaries of the fraudulent scheme, according to prosecutors. The pair live in Miramar Beach on Florida's panhandle. They are pictured on their boat

Brian Kolfage, 38, and his wife Ashley, 33, are accused of being the main beneficiaries of the fraudulent scheme, according to prosecutors. The pair live in Miramar Beach on Florida’s panhandle. They are pictured on their boat

The triple amputee Iraq veteran (pictured in New Mexico last year) has been charged with stealing $350,000 from the multimillion-dollar GoFundMe account he set up in support of President Trump's wall initiative in 2018

The triple amputee Iraq veteran (pictured in New Mexico last year) has been charged with stealing $350,000 from the multimillion-dollar GoFundMe account he set up in support of President Trump’s wall initiative in 2018

Kolfage launched the private wall effort in December 2018. He took it off GoFundMe recently because, he claimed, the company was not allowing him to fundraise for victims of assaults by BLM protesters

Kolfage launched the private wall effort in December 2018. He took it off GoFundMe recently because, he claimed, the company was not allowing him to fundraise for victims of assaults by BLM protesters

‘They made it up. It’s so blatantly false. If they can do this to us they can do it to anybody,’ he told the New York Post by phone. 

‘Everyone knows that the Southern District is really the sovereign district. They do their own things. They went after Rudy Giuliani. They do what they want to do and it’s politically motivated.’

Kolfage’s comments appeared to echo those of alleged accomplice Steve Bannon, who last month blasted his prosecution as a ‘political hit job’.

The former Trump advisor claimed the allegations were an attempt ‘to stop and intimidate people that want to talk about the wall.’

The GoFundMe initiative had raised $27million after it was backed by Republican donors in support of the border wall. 

Prosecutors however, say Kolfage, Bannon, Timothy Shea and Andrew Badolato allegedly used shell companies and a not-for-profit formed by Bannon to launder the money back to Kolfage and keep some for themselves.

Bannon and Kolfage are pictured in a video on the We Build The Wall website

Bannon and Kolfage are pictured in a video on the We Build The Wall website 

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon leaves U.S. District Court - Southern District of New York located at 500 Pearl Street in New York City after he was arraigned for alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit on August 20, 2020. Three other men, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, were also arrested in this alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit, which authorities said raised more than $25 million

Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon leaves U.S. District Court – Southern District of New York located at 500 Pearl Street in New York City after he was arraigned for alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit on August 20, 2020. Three other men, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato and Timothy Shea, were also arrested in this alleged scheme to defraud the non-profit, which authorities said raised more than $25 million

Bannon was arrested and later released after putting up $5million bail, secured by $1.75million in assets. 

In his interview with the Post, Kolfage also denied that his wife Ashley had received money from the scheme and claimed he is able to support his ‘good middle class family’ from the payouts he receives from the Department of Veteran Affairs. 

‘I’m not living a lavish life by any freaking means,’ he said. ‘Thank God I have a house that was given to me by the Gary Sinise Foundation.’ 

Kolfage with former President George Bush. He lost an arm and both his legs in 2004 in Iraq

After returning from the war, Kolfage married Ashley - a former Chilli's waitress. They lived quietly until Trump's political victory, when they then became vocal supporters. The pair are shown with Eric Trump

Kolfage with former President George Bush. He lost an arm and both his legs in 2004 in Iraq. After returning from the war, Kolfage married Ashley – a former Chilli’s waitress. They lived quietly until Trump’s political victory, when they then became vocal supporters. The pair are shown with Eric Trump (right) last February

Prior to the scandal, Kolfage had been hailed as a decorated war hero after he was nearly killed and lost an arm and both his legs in a rocket attack in Iraq on September 11, 2004.

Initially, Kolfage was celebrated by members of both parties.

In March, he told Reuters he had begun accepting $10,000 a month in salary from the wall organization, saying the amount was modest compared to salaries paid by other nonprofits of that size.

Actually, according to the indictment, he had received a one-time payment of $100,000 as early as February 2019, plus $20,000 a month routed through a Bannon nonprofit and corporations that were supposedly working on the wall project.

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