Colorado businessman gets over 5 years in prison for ‘We Build The Wall’ fundraiser fraud
Jul 25, 2023, 3:10 PM
(AP Photo/Larry Neumeister)
NEW YORK (AP) — A Colorado businessman convicted of fraudulently siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from an online fundraiser that raised $25 million to build a wall along the U.S. southern border was sentenced Tuesday to five years and three months in prison.
Timothy Shea was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Analisa Torres, who presided over an October trial that ended with his conviction on charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of justice. A trial earlier in 2022 had ended when a jury deadlocked on charges.
Shea, 52, of Castle Rock, Colorado, also was ordered to forfeit $1.8 million and to pay restitution of an equal amount.
Shea was charged three years ago along with three others, including Steve Bannon, the former top adviser to then-President Donald Trump. Trump pardoned Bannon in early 2021 while two others pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison. Bannon, who is now being prosecuted in New York state court, has pleaded not guilty.
Torres said Shea and the others not only cheated donors but also “hurt us all” by damaging faith in the country’s political system by capitalizing on those who believed that building a wall would help secure the nation’s borders.
She noted that donors who testified at trial included a longtime Army veteran and a teacher whose deceased husband had worked as a border agent.
Before the sentence was announced, Shea told the judge that he regretted “all of the ‘We Build The Wall’ stuff.”
He asked for leniency, saying his wife and teenage children needed him at home.
Prosecutors said Shea pocketed $180,000 in a fundraiser that promised donors that 100% of the money raised would go toward building the wall.
Shea owns an energy drink company, Winning Energy, whose cans have featured a cartoon superhero image of Trump and claim to contain “12 oz. of liberal tears.”
In a release, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Shea abused the trust of donors when he “stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to line his own pockets, and attempted to obstruct the federal investigation of his criminal conduct.”
The scheme began after late 2018, when hundreds of thousands of donors began pouring millions into the campaign to build a wall.
Earlier this year, Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato were sentenced after pleading guilty to charges in the case. Kolfage, 41, of Miramar Beach, Florida, received four years and three months in prison while Andrew Badolato, 58, of Cocoa, Florida, was sentenced to three years in prison.