Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man who helped run border wall charity convicted in retrial

A new section of border wall constructed in a remote expanse of desert outside Yuma, Arizona, under the Trump administration.  (TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE)
By Colin Moynihan New York Times

NEW YORK – A man from Colorado who helped loot a charity that raised private money for a border wall of the sort championed by former President Donald Trump was convicted Friday in a retrial in Manhattan federal court. An earlier trial was scuttled by a juror who was said to have insisted that the prosecution was a “government witch hunt.”

The man, Timothy Shea, has been the only one of four defendants to face a jury in the case so far, and his mistrial earlier this year was a setback for prosecutors in an office that has handled cases involving several defendants related to Trump and his allies.

For nearly two years, Shea was a central figure in raising money for a barrier separating the United States from Mexico, working with a tax exempt group that pledged to help fulfill Trump’s call for a “big, beautiful wall.”

We Build the Wall Inc. raised more than $25 million, claiming the money would go toward constructing a barrier. Those promises were lies, said prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office, and on Friday a jury agreed, convicting Shea of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and falsification of documents.

Sitting in the well of the courtroom, Shea gazed straight ahead, seemingly impassive, as Judge Analisa Torres read the verdict.

The conviction ended a case that began in 2020 when Shea was arrested along with three other men who had prominent roles in We Build the Wall: the group’s president, an Air Force veteran named Brian Kolfage; Andrew Badolato, a Florida financier; and Steve Bannon, a former chief strategist for Trump.

Prosecutors said that all four schemed to secretly funnel money from We Build the Wall to themselves. Those funds, prosecutors added, ended up being used to pay hotel and credit card bills, to buy jewelry, a golf cart and a luxury SUV, and to purchase a truckload of Trump-themed energy drinks marketed as containing “liberal tears.”

Kolfage pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and tax-related charges. Badolato pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.

Bannon was spared a federal trial after he received a pardon from Trump during his last hours as president but is now facing a trial in state court. Last month, the Manhattan district attorney’s office unsealed an indictment charging Bannon with money laundering, conspiracy and scheming to defraud.