On his last night in the White House, President Donald Trump pardoned a longtime friend and ally facing federal charges — but left three alleged co-conspirators to work through the court system, including an area man.
Andrew Badolato, 56, is still facing wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies.
Badolato, who grew up in Englewood, lived in Casey Key and is now a Sarasota resident, was charged through the Southern District of New York with Brian Kolfage and Timothy Shea.
Badolato, Kolfage, and Shea are accused of being a part of a scheme to bilk funds from proponents of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Badolato pleaded not guilty on the charges with a trial tentatively slated for late May.
He is accused of conspiring with his longtime partner, Steve Bannon, along with Kolfage and Shea in the multimillion-dollar scheme using an organization they created called “We Build the Wall.”
Calls, texts and emails to Badolato were not returned.
His social media accounts do not discuss the case — with posts from the time of the indictment forward deleted back to July 2016 and then restarted in October with a variety of family photos and occasionally political statements. His Twitter account has no activity in for two months between Aug. 20 and Oct. 20.
Now it includes retweets of politics defending President Donald Trump and questioning the 2020 election results.
“The defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a September news release from the Southern District of New York.
It alleged Bannon, Badolato, Kolfage and Shea “orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors … in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign ultimately known as ‘We Build The Wall’ that raised more than $25 million to build a wall along the southern border of the United States.”
It said Kolfage “repeatedly and falsely assured the public that he would ‘not take a penny in salary or compensation’ and that ‘100% of the funds raised … will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose’ because, as Bannon publicly stated, ‘we’re a volunteer organization.’”
Bannon was a leader in the 2016 presidential bid for Donald Trump and later worked in the administration as a chief strategist for the president. Badolato and Bannon were together at Trump Tower in New York City when Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. The two, for decades, worked on a variety of projects, including companies based in Englewood and the movie “Clinton Cash.”
On his personal website, Andrew Badolato calls himself “an accomplished; entrepreneur, senior level executive, venture capitalist and seed stage investor experienced in a diverse range of industries, skills and applications.”
The government doesn’t name any of his firms in its indictment, marking the alleged crimes as something that began in about December 2018 between the four men.
The allegations say the four involved received money from donors for “We Build the Wall” and said they “each used in a manner inconsistent with the organization’s public representations.”
“To conceal the payments to Kolfage from We Build the Wall, Kolfage, Bannon, Badolato and Shea devised a scheme to route those payments from We Build the Wall to Kolfage indirectly through Non-Profit-1 and a shell company under Shea’s control, among other avenues.”
In February 2019, Bannon texted Badolato to wire cash to Non-Profit-1 from We Build the Wall; soon after, the bank account for Non-Profit-1 received $250,000 from We Build the Wall; less than a week later, another $100,000 wire transfer was made the same way, the probable cause affidavit states.
“In or around late July and early August 2019, Badolato caused We Build the Wall to pay over $150,000 to a construction contractor … (the contractor) then paid $70,000 of those funds to Kolfage, another $50,000 of those funds to Badolato, and $20,000 to an attorney working on a matter for Badolato unrelated to We Build the Wall.”
Around October 2019, they allegedly learned they were under investigation and began using encrypted messaging apps, the government said. The We Build the Wall website was scrubbed of mentions that suggested Kolfage was not being compensated.
Badolato and the others, aside from Bannon, face up to 20 years in prison for each charge.