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Veteran facing border wall scam charges with Steve Bannon: 'Not a penny' was taken

By Tara Copp, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

"How does a person who has no limbs, and just has a wheelchair that can't even go in the vehicle, get into the vehicle?" Kolfage said. "I had to crawl, like literally hop out of my wheelchair - I have no legs - hop out of my wheelchair onto the ground, and pull myself up into the vehicle. My family's there watching out the window and the whole thing is just completely disrespectful."

Kolfage said under the terms of the indictment he has not been allowed to talk to Bannon or the other organization members. His attorney, Harvey Steinberg, said that they expect to receive the documentation and evidence the indictment has cited within the next 30 days and they will be responding. A request for comment from Bannon's attorney was not immediately returned.

While Kolfage would not go into the specifics of what his defense will be challenging, he said the indictment's charges are "completely false."

"I think ultimately when this all comes out, it's going to be a huge black eye and embarrassment on the Southern District of New York," he said.

Kolfage said he met Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, and the other organization members in Washington, D.C., in December 2018. He was transitioning his GoFundMe effort, which raised $20 million in a matter of weeks, to a private nonprofit fundraising effort.

He and the others set up a board and legal structure, Kolfage said. He was then contacted by an Air Force veteran who owned land in New Mexico, which is where the organization began construction of a border wall, he said.

 

"This was about Bannon. Bannon's told me, from day one, they're coming for him," Kolfage said. "If Steve Bannon wasn't part of this project there's no way in hell the Southern District of New York is going to send 15 officers from New York City down to my house to take me in, alone. It's all political."

Kolfage receives $100,000 a year from the Department of Veterans Affairs to compensate for his injuries. He said he also has a number of other business ventures, including working for various political action committees with their donor outreach and social media.

He said he owned his boat and the Land Rover mentioned in the indictment prior to the campaign to raise money to build the wall. When the court posted the indictment against Kolfage, it said both his Land Rover and his boat "Warfighter" had been seized.

"Nothing of mine was seized at all," Kolfage said. "Again, that's something they tried to make me look bad."

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