At retrial, jurors weigh ‘We Build The Wall’ fraud claims

Oct 27, 2022, 4:58 AM | Updated: 5:03 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — For a second time this year, jurors get a chance to decide whether a Colorado businessman helped turn an online fundraiser to build a wall along the U.S. southern border into a cash cow for its creators.

The jury in Manhattan federal court began deliberating the fate of Timothy Shea on Thursday after hearing closing arguments in a retrial that’s not even a week old. It resumes its work Friday morning after failing to immediately reach a conclusion.

A trial in the spring ended in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked after 11 jurors said the remaining juror had accused them of being politically biased and thought the trial should have been held in a southern state.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Bracewell told jurors in her closing that fraud was in the game plan as soon as Shea and three others, including ex-President Donald Trump’s onetime adviser Steve Bannon, thought of creating the fundraising plan in late 2018.

She said Shea “and his partners in crime” created a powerful and compelling fundraising message by assuring donors that every cent donated would be used to build portions of a wall.

“The lie served its purpose,” Bracewell said. “It mattered to donors.”

The prosecutor said fraud participants even mocked their donors in text messages as they marveled at how fast the fundraiser generated millions of dollars and eventually reached $25 million.

She accused Shea of creating a shell company and manipulating how money was drawn from the donor accounts so money could be siphoned off for use by fundraiser organizers.

Bracewell said Shea even steered money into his energy drink company, Winning Energy, which sells cans that have featured a cartoon superhero image of Trump and claim to contain “12 oz. of liberal tears.”

“We Build The Wall was like a bottomless piggybank,” she said. “They looted it for anything they wanted to do.”

Shea’s lawyer, John Meringolo, told jurors in his closing that they have multiple ways to conclude that there is insufficient evidence to convict his client.

For one, he said, the trial doesn’t belong in New York. He said that if they conclude prosecutors failed to show sufficient ties between alleged crimes and New York, then they can acquit his client.

Meringolo said Shea did plenty of work for the campaign by helping to secure land where the wall could be built and by providing security.

He said that if his client had a flaw, it was that he was sloppy with paperwork.

And he said evidence that his client did work and accumulated expenses that needed to be reimbursed was another reason to acquit.

“There is a wall,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, that’s reasonable doubt and that’s not guilty.”

Repeatedly, Meringolo said the evidence shown to jurors came up short.

“They didn’t prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “They really didn’t.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Shoppers looking for bargains enter an OshKosh children clothing store, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, in M...
Anne D'Innocenzio and Cora Lewis, Associated Press

Shoppers hunt for deals but inflation makes bargains elusive

Consumers holding out for big deals -- and some much-needed relief from soaring costs on just about everything -- may be disappointed as they head into the busiest shopping season of the year.
7 hours ago
FILE - The Twitter splash page is seen on a digital device, Monday, April 25, 2022, in San Diego.  ...
Associated Press

Musk plans to relaunch Twitter premium service, again

Elon Musk said Friday that Twitter plans to relaunch its premium service that will offer different colored check marks to accounts next week, in a fresh move to revamp the service after a previous attempt backfired. It’s the latest change to the social media platform that the billionaire Tesla CEO bought last month for $44 […]
7 hours ago
In this Dec. 12, 2016, photo, a person searches the internet for sales, in Miami. Days after flocki...
Associated Press

Cyber Monday deals lure in consumers amid high inflation

NEW YORK (AP) — Days after flocking to stores on Black Friday, consumers are turning online for Cyber Monday to score more discounts on gifts and other items that have ballooned in price because of high inflation. Cyber Monday is expected to remain the year’s biggest online shopping day and rake in up to $11.6 […]
1 day ago
Kenya's President William Ruto, left, Burundi's President and summit chairperson Evariste Ndayishim...
Associated Press

Talks begin on disarmament of rebel groups in eastern Congo

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The third round of Congo peace talks facilitated by the East Africa regional bloc opened in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Monday with a plan to discuss reforms that will facilitate disarmament of rebel groups. Kenyan President William Ruto and Burundi’s Évariste Ndayishimiye attended the Monday opening session in person, while the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Meta's logo can be seen on a sign at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on No...
Associated Press

Irish watchdog fines Meta 265M euros in latest privacy case

LONDON (AP) — Irish regulators slapped Facebook parent Meta with a 265 million-euro ($277 million) fine Monday, the company’s latest punishment for breaching strict European Union data privacy rules. The Data Protection Commission said Meta Platforms infringed sections of the EU rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, that require technical and organizational measures […]
1 day ago
Howard Polskin, founder of the free five-year-old newsletter TheRighting, poses at his home office ...
Associated Press

The Righting deciphers conservative media for outsiders

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly six years into monitoring the content of conservative media outlets for his website and newsletter The Righting, Howard Polskin hasn’t lost the capacity for surprise. Case in point: when Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential candidacy, and many of his long-time media allies let fly with anger and insults. Two […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
At retrial, jurors weigh ‘We Build The Wall’ fraud claims