Chief Operating Officer And Vice President Of International Cargo Airline Plead Guilty To Defrauding Their Employer
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TIMOTHY SHEA was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres to 63 months in prison for his role in carrying out a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign known as “We Build The Wall” by soliciting donations using false statements and then stealing the resulting donations, as well as laundering the proceeds of the fraud scheme and attempting to obstruct the federal criminal investigation of the scheme.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Timothy Shea abused the trust of donors to ‘We Build the Wall,’ 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 defendant has now been held accountable and faces prison time for his crimes.”
According to court filings and evidence introduced during court proceedings:
Starting in approximately December 2018, TIMOTHY SHEA, his co-defendants BRIAN KOLFAGE and ANDREW BADOLATO, and others orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors, including donors in the Southern District of New York, in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign ultimately known as “We Build The Wall” that raised more than $25,000,000 to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. In particular, to induce donors to donate to the campaign, KOLFAGE repeatedly and falsely assured the public that he would “not take a penny in salary or compensation” and that “100% of the funds raised…will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose.”
Those representations were lies. In truth, KOLFAGE, BADOLATO, SHEA, and others received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor funds from We Build the Wall, which they each used in a manner inconsistent with the organization’s public representations. For example, KOLFAGE covertly took for his personal use more than $350,000 in funds that donors had given to We Build the Wall. To conceal the payments to KOLFAGE from We Build the Wall, KOLFAGE, BADOLATO, SHEA, and others devised a scheme to route those payments through entities and bank accounts that they controlled. They took various steps to obscure or conceal these payments, including by using fake invoices and sham contracts — conduct for which SHEA was convicted at trial of obstruction of justice.
* * *
SHEA, 52, of Castle Rock, Colorado, was convicted after trial of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and obstruction of justice. In addition to the prison term, SHEA was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $1,801,707 and pay restitution in the amount of $1,801,707.
KOLFAGE, 41, of Miramar Beach, Florida, and BADOLATO, 58, of Cocoa, Florida, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. KOLFAGE also pled guilty to tax and wire fraud charges originally filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida. KOLFAGE was sentenced to 51 months in prison, and BADOLATO was sentenced to 36 months in prison.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Special Agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alison G. Moe, Nicolas Roos, Robert B. Sobelman, and Derek Wikstrom are in charge of the prosecution, with the assistance of Paralegal Specialists Christopher de Grandpre and Andrea Gieseman.