In We Build The Wall Trial US Cites Shell Company But Shea Counsel Says Loaded Term
Shea's lawyer says the jury should end up saying, It wan't nice, what they did to Tim Shea. Inner City Press is covering the trial. #CourtCaseCast
SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 24 – The Southern District of New York courthouse, which Inner City Press has covered nearly alone this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was jumping on August 20. Video here. In the afternoon, Steve Bannon would appear in person before a judge. After pleading not guilty, he told the press as he left the courthouse, "This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall."
This came after more than two hours of chanting by three then six people with flags, pro-Bannon: "CCP violence, stop the killing." Inner City Press spoke with them, video here.
On August 31, 2020 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Analisa Torres held a proceeding, and Inner City Press live tweeted it, below.
On April 21, 2022 Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato appeared before Judge Torres in order to plead guilty. Inner City Press live tweeted it here and below
On May 6, Judge Torres held a pre-trial conference for co-defendant Shea; Inner City Press live tweeted it, here and below.
On May 24 the trial began with opening arguments, which Inner City Press live tweeted here:
OK - We Build the Wall trial opening argument begin.
Assistant US Attorney Moe: There was a GoFundMe fundraiser called We Build the Wall. They said the money would go to the government, to build a wall. Kolfage was the face of the operation; the defendant and his wife did the work behind the scenes.
AUSA Moe: But the government could not take the GoFundMe money. So they set up a non-profit. This case is not about whether there should be wall on the southern border of the US. They did built segments of the wall. But they also stole money from the organization
AUSA Moe: Invoice, payment, kickback. Again and again. We Build the Wall was a victim too. Defendant learned we prosecutors here in Manhattan had asked for their bank records. A bank employee told them by mistake. So the defendant signed a fake contract.
AUSA Moe: So please pay close attention to the evidence. Listen to Judge Torres. Use your common sense. If you do, at the end you will reach the only verdict you can: the defendant is guilty.
Judge Torres: Now, the defense.
Shea's lawyer John Meringolo: We're New Yorkers. Maybe we don't want a wall on the southern border. But that's not what this case is about. "Shell company" is a loaded word. Where is the specific intent? They met Steve Bannon, said, we should do a charity.
Maringolo: Write down this name: attorney Richard Kay. He's the lawyer for the non-profit, at a major firm. Not like me who works out of my basement [Docket: Meringolo & Associates, 375 Greenwich Street, Floor 7]
Meringolo: They built TWO walls. One in New Mexico, the Army Corps said it would cost $41 million and take two years. They did it in 17 days for much less. Maybe we should hire them to build our roads in New York.
Shea's lawyer Meringolo: They did security events in Detroit. In Cincinnati. The southern border is dangerous. The government is going to present a chart of who called show on October 10 - Bannon called Kay, Tim called his wife. So what?
Shea's lawyer Meringolo: So Tim got paid. So what? You're never going to here Tim Shea he doesn't want to get paid for work he does, especially on the southern border. It's dangerous.
Shea's lawyer Meringolo: I only learned who Erik Prince is a few days ago. He is a billionaire. Meanwhile my client is swearing in text messages. When he said, we go to jail, he meant for a lack of construction permits.
Shea's lawyer Meringolo: If I do my job, you will vote not guilty. And on the way home on the train you'll say, That wasn't nice what they did to Tim Shea. Thank you.
Back on May 6: Judge Analisa Torres says his communication with his wife can be admitted at trial.
Judge Torres: Defense requests that the US not be able to put in evidence of not paying taxes, calling it irrelevant. The US argues not reporting income from We Build the Wall is relevant. I rule that the evidence may be introduced.
Assistant US Attorney: We don't want the jury to hear about his children, or his faith.
Shea's lawyer: We want the jury to know that he lives in Colorado and that's why his family is not in the gallery. AUSA: We want no reference to Mr. Bannon's pardon.
Shea's lawyer: We will not reference Mr. Bannon's pardon unless Mr. Bannon testifies.
AUSA: He was offered a plea deal in March 2022. We'd like him allocuted to that.
Judge Torres: I like to do that in person. Adjourned
From April 21: Judge Analisa Torres: You wish to plead guilty? Kolfage: Yes. Badolato: Yes. Judge Analisa Torres: I must then ask you some questions. How far did you go in school?
Kolfage: Bachelors in architecture in Arizona.
Badolato: I had a drink last night with dinner, about 7 pm. I have a couple of heart stints, I had a heart attack six or seven years ago. Judge Torres: Sorry to hear that. Is you mind clear? Badolato: Yes, ma'am.
AUSA: They are charged with wire fraud... Judge Torres: Did you willingly sign the plea agreement?
Kolfage: Yes. Judge Torres: How do you plead? Guilty. Kolfage: In 2018 I created We the People Build the Wall. I meant to give the funds to the government.
Kolfage: It became clear we could not earmark the money only for the wall. So we created a non-profit. I continued to raise funds. I said I would not be compensated. We did construct in New Mexico. But I received money, including from within the SDNY
Analisa Torres: You told the public you would build the wall, and not take money, right? Kolfage: Right. Analisa Torres: But you kept the money, right? Kolfage: Yes.
AUSA Roos: We have bank records, social media posts, iCloud account returns...
AUSA Roos: Mr Kolfage was quoted, "They Michael Flynn-ed me." Can you ask him if he is pleading voluntarily? Judge Torres: Is this voluntary? Kolfage: Yes.
Badolato: I know that we were paying Mr. Kolfage. I am very sorry and ask the court for mercy. Judge Torres: You got money too, right? Badolato: I was paid by We Build the Wall.
Judge Torres: I accept the guilty pleas and set sentencing for September 6, 1 pm in NYC.
Back on December 27-28 in the case, We Built The Wall and Kris Kobach appealed: "Notice is hereby given that We Build the Wall, Inc., and Kris Kobach, nonparty movants in the above-captioned case, hereby appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from an Order denying their Motion to Modify a Post-Indictment Restraining Order, entered in this action on December 14, 2020."
On May 5, 2021 Judge Torres denied the request without prejudice: "ORDER - Defendant Brian Kolfage moves for an order modifying the post-indictment restraining order issued on August 24, 2020, which prohibits the transfer of certain funds involved in his charged offenses (the "Restraining Order"), ECF No. 64. Alternatively, he requests a hearing to challenge the Courts finding that there was probable cause for the issuance of the Restraining Order, ECF No. 77. For the reasons stated below, Kolfage's motions are DENIED without prejudice. By May 19, 2021, Kolfage may submit evidence demonstrating that he meets the threshold for a Monsanto hearing, along with a motion to seal the affidavit from the public if desired.... By May 19, 2021, Kolfage may submit evidence demonstrating that he meets the threshold for a Monsanto hearing, along with a motion to seal the affidavit from the public if desired."
On May 6, "LETTER by USA as to Brian Kolfage addressed to Judge Analisa Torres from Assistant United States Attorney Robert B. Sobelman dated May 6, 2021 re: United States v. Brian G. Kolfage, 21 Cr. 29 (MCR) (N.D. Fla.) Document filed by USA. (Sobelman, Robert)." The charges are "tax related."
On July 21, 2021, Judge Torres held a proceeding leading up to a trial scheduled for November 15. Inner City Press live tweeted it here:
Assistant US Attorney reports on discovery and says, "Let's set a motion schedule." Judge Torres: Mr Steinberg (represents Kolfage), do you plan motions?
Steinberg: We ask for 60 days after the last drop of discovery. Judge Torres: That's an awfully long period of time.
AUSA Roos: The government's view is that the remaining materials should not delay a motion schedule. The defendants already have the search warrants, and can make suppression motions; they have the indictment and can make motions to dismiss.
AUSA Roos: The proposal by counsel for Mr. Kolfaaage would delay the trial. Steinberg: How about 45 days from today for motions?
Judge Torres. No. That's also just too long -- Steinberg: We are doing back to back trials because so many cases have been continued
Steinberg: We're having trials every day, I'm on trial 4 weeks in a row, 2 trials a week. Judge Torres: When do you start?
Steinberg: I have two next week. Judge Torres: When do you expect to be finished?
Steinberg: The state hasn't had trials in a year.
Steinberg: Next week I have an NFL player who hasn't been able to play for a year, because of no trial.
Judge Torres: Aug 30 for motions... Motions in limine and voir dire by Oct 18... We have a Nov 15 trial date but I am not in control, it's now 100% certain. Judge Torres: We are adjourned
On February 9, 2022, with still no trial, this: "ORDER as to Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, Timothy Shea. The current COVID-19 trial protocols in place in the Southern District of New York do not permit the Court to hold a three-defendant criminal trial. The Court, therefore, intends to hold two separate trials in this matter, and shall utilize the centralized calendaring system for jury trials to request two trial dates for the second quarter of 2022. Accordingly, by February 14, 2022, at 12:00 p.m., the parties shall submit a joint letter proposing whom should be tried together and whom should be tried alone."
But the COVID situation is lift in SDNY. On March 8, 2022: "ORDER as to Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, Timothy Shea: On December 7, 2021, the parties provided their availability for trial in the second calendar quarter of 2022. The Court requested a jury trial based on the parties' availability. The Clerk's Office has notified the Court that this case has been scheduled as the primary back up case for May 16, 2022. The case will proceed if the primary case does not go forward. Moreover, because there is a strong possibility that multiple juries will be selected on any given date, this trial will likely go forward even if the primary case goes forward. The case must therefore be trial ready on May 16, 2022. As soon as the Court confirms whether the matter will proceed on May 16, 2022, it will inform the parties." Watch this site.
The overall case is US v. Kolfage et al., 20-cr-412 (Torres).
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