Steve Bannon, who served as chief strategist for former U.S. President Donald Trump, was charged on Thursday with money laundering, conspiracy and scheme to defraud after turning himself in to New York State prosecutors, according to local authorities.
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New York prosecutors announced the indictment of Bannon, 68, and We Build the Wall, Inc., a Florida-based not-for-profit corporation, for a year-long fundraising scheme that netted over 15 million U.S. dollars from thousands of donors, and for laundering the proceeds of that scheme in order to advance and conceal the fraud.
Both Bannon and We Build the Wall, Inc. were charged with two counts of money laundering, three counts of conspiracy and one count of scheme to defraud by a New York State Supreme Court grand jury indictment, according to a release from Manhattan District Attorney's Office on Thursday.
"It is a crime to turn a profit by lying to donors, and in New York, you will be held accountable," said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
"As alleged, Stephen Bannon acted as the architect of a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud thousands of donors across the country -- including hundreds of Manhattan residents," Bragg said.
"Mr. Bannon took advantage of his donors' political views to secure millions of dollars which he then misappropriated. Mr. Bannon lied to his donors to enrich himself and his friends," added New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Bannon was arraigned before a State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan in the afternoon and he pleaded not guilty, said a report by ABC News.
"This is nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system," said Bannon in a statement on Tuesday referring to the indictment.
Bannon together with three others were indicted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York for crimes related to We Build the Wall's fundraising scheme in August 2020 and he was pardoned by Trump on Jan. 20, 2021.
Moreover, Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress in July and is scheduled to be sentenced later this year.