Brian Kolfage, an Iraq war veteran who was arrested on Thursday for skimming off millions of dollars raised in donations for the US-Mexico border, blew the cash his on his "lavish lifestyle," including buying a boat, jewelry and on cosmetic surgery, according to prosecutors. Kolfage is among the three arrested alongside Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump, for allegedly defrauding donors of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to court papers, Kolfage allegedly pocketed thousands of dollars every month from the GoFundMe fundraiser 'We Build the Wall' that was launched in 2018. Besides, Kolfage also spent the ill-gotten money on buying luxury SUVs and making personal tax payments.
Stealing Public Money
Kolfage, 38, along with Bannon and two others, were indicted by federal prosecutors in Manhattan on charges of looting donors' money for personal gains. Kolfage, an air force veteran, was part of the team that founded a private crowdfunding organization that raised more than $25 million to help build parts of the US-Mexico border wall.
A Purple Heart recipient, Kolfage allegedly pocketed $20,000 every month â and a $100,000 up-front payment â from the non-profit that was launched in 2018. The ill-gotten money was reportedly spent by Kolfage in buying a luxury boat, SUV, a golf cart and making personal tax payments and credit card debt.
Besides, he is also accused of blowing off chunk of the money on buying jewelry and cosmetic surgery. "While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle," Audrey Strauss, the acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.
Kolfage has been a decorated air force pilot who drew immense praise during the Iraq War. A triple amputee Air Force veteran, Kolfage was seriously wounded in 2004 when a rocket blew up in Iraq. He later married his longtime girlfriend Ashley in 2011. He reportedly had met Ashley years earlier when she was a hostess at a Chili's restaurant in San Angelo, Texas.
The couple lives in Miramar Beach, Florida, and has a young son and daughter. However, that isn't Kolfage's only claim to fame. His wife Ashley is a popular TikTok star. Kolfage too has more than 67,000 followers on Instagram and often posts about his boat, which has a Trump 2020 flag displayed on it.
However, it is still not clear if it is the same boat prosecutors say was purchased with the GoFundMe donations. In fact, in 2018, the die-hard Trump supporter was also praised by Donald Trump Jr. for his fundraiser. In 2019, Kolfage posted a photo of him and Ashley with Eric Trump.
Prosecutors allege that some of the cash that flowed to Kolfage was disguised as payments to Ashley for "media" purposes given that she is a "brand influencer" and energy drink model. Ashley too has a massive online presence and often posts bikini shots on Instagram.