Businessman Who Siphoned off $180K From 'We Build the Wall' Fundraiser Gets Over 5 Years in Prison

Businessman Who Siphoned off $180K From 'We Build the Wall' Fundraiser Gets Over 5 Years in Prison
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In a case of fraudulent activity, a businessman from Colorado has been sentenced to five years and three months in prison. Timothy Shea was found guilty of conspiring to siphon off hundreds of thousands of dollars from an online fundraiser 'We Build The Wall' aimed at building a wall along the U.S. southern border. The fraudulent campaign began in late 2018, attracting hundreds of thousands of donors who collectively poured millions of dollars into the wall-building initiative. Shea's conviction on two conspiracy counts and obstruction of justice charge led to his sentencing in Manhattan federal court. As he left the building, Shea remained silent when asked for a comment, per Denver7.

Image Source: Kindel Media/Pexels
Image Source: Kindel Media/Pexels

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Two years ago, Timothy Shea, a resident of Castle Rock, Colorado, was charged along with three others, including Steve Bannon, the former top adviser to then-President Donald Trump. Prosecutors presented evidence revealing that Shea had misappropriated $180,000 from the fundraiser, despite promising donors that 100% of the funds would be utilized for building the wall. Bannon is currently facing prosecution in state court but was pardoned by Trump shortly before he left office. As for the other two individuals, they have already pleaded guilty to their involvement in the case. Despite Shea's defense attorney, John Meringolo arguing that prosecutors had not proven fraud in the promotion of the 'We Build The Wall' fundraiser, the jury's verdict rejected this claim.

Cover Image Source: Pexels/Tara Winstead
Cover Image Source: Tara Winstead/Pexels

 

Earlier this year, Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, both involved in the scheme, were sentenced after pleading guilty. Kolfage, aged 41 from Miramar Beach, Florida, received a prison term of four years and three months, while Andrew Badolato, aged 58 from Cocoa, Florida, was sentenced to three years in prison, per CBS News.

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The fundraiser had amassed $25 million in donations from hundreds of thousands of people across the nation. During the closing arguments, Meringolo also urged the jurors to consider New York as an inappropriate venue for the trial. Shea's defense attorney attempted to argue that his client was entitled to receive reimbursement for substantial expenses related to the wall, as he had played a significant role in negotiating with property owners and providing construction security. However, only a few miles of the wall were eventually built.

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During the trial, it was revealed that Shea and his accomplices not only deceived donors but also eroded faith in the country's political system by taking advantage of those who believed that funding a wall would enhance national border security. Among the donors who testified were a longtime Army veteran and a teacher whose late husband had served as a border agent. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated that Shea betrayed the trust of donors when he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal gain and attempted to obstruct the federal investigation into his criminal actions.

Prior to the sentencing, Shea expressed remorse to the judge, acknowledging regret for his involvement in the 'We Build The Wall' project. He appealed for leniency, emphasizing the importance of his presence at home for the sake of his wife and teenage children.

Amidst rising cases of fundraiser frauds, the most prominent in recent years has been the COVID-19 Relief fund scams. As per media reports, around $80 billion of the $800 billion released under the COVID-19 Relief Fund, known Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been stolen by individuals. The scammers allegedly used the money to buy luxury cars like Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys, and Teslas. In view of these, it is important to be aware of such fraudulent schemes and follow the FTC's guidelines on how to donate wisely and avoid charity scams. 



 

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