NEW YORK — Trump adviser Steve Bannon isn’t worried about going to the big house because New York’s case against him is “a sham.”
The right-wing strategist shared his belief when he appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday for his alleged role in the We Build the Wall crowdfunding scam.
“I ain’t going to prison,” Bannon said. “It’s all a sham.”
Bannon appeared in court with a new legal team, as ordered by state Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan. His previous lawyers said in January that he stopped talking to them.
He was met by more than a dozen protesters with signs that read “CON MAN,” “GLOBAL FACIST” and “stole from MAGA faithful.”
At the hearing, Justin Weddle, a lawyer for the nonprofit also facing charges, asked to withdraw from the case as “the human beings involved in We Build the Wall have all resigned.” Merchan said he’d rule on the request after researching how to proceed without a company representative.
The judge threw a bone to Bannon’s lawyers by giving them until May to review a mountain of evidence before he puts the case on track for trial.
Bannon, 69, has pleaded not guilty to money laundering, conspiracy and fraud charges in an indictment alleging he scammed supporters of Trump’s signature immigration policy. Trump pardoned him of the federal charges.
We Build The Wall’s advertisements promised to commit “every penny raised” toward constructing a U.S.-Mexico border wall. But prosecutors say Bannon siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars to enrich himself and his associates. In his pardoned case, the feds accused him and three others of funneling more than $1 million to spend on cosmetic surgery, golf carts and credit card debt.
Trump’s pardon didn’t protect Bannon from state prosecution. The others charged alongside him in August 2020 didn’t receive pardons and have since been convicted.
Brian Kolfage, a Purple Heart recipient and triple amputee, and Andrew Badolato pleaded guilty last spring. A jury convicted Colorado businessman Timothy Shea, in October, four months after his first round in court ended in a mistrial. All three are expected to be sentenced in April.
Bannon faces up to 15 years if convicted. We Build the Wall fund faces financial penalties.
The self-described populist was found guilty of contempt of Congress in July for refusing to cooperate with the special House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. He was sentenced to four months in prison for the crime in October, which he’s appealing.