By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Steve Bannon, a one-time advisor to Donald Trump, is set to go on trial on May 27, 2024, on criminal charges over a push to fund the former U.S. president’s signature wall along the U.S. southern border, a New York judge said in a court hearing on Thursday.
New York state prosecutors in Manhattan accuse Bannon of defrauding donors who contributed more than $15 million to the “We Build the Wall” fundraising drive. According to the indictment, Bannon concealed his role in diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars to the drive’s chief executive.
Bannon, 69, has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, conspiracy and scheming to defraud.
Justice Juan Merchan at the brief hearing gave Bannon’s lawyers until Oct. 6 to file a possible motion to dismiss the charges. Merchan said he would rule on any such motion at a hearing on April 29.
Bannon was initially charged over the fundraising push by federal prosecutors in Manhattan but received a presidential pardon from Trump during the final hours of his term. That pardon covered federal but not state charges.
Brian Kolfage, a decorated U.S. Air Force veteran who led the funding push, was sentenced last month to 4-1/4 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of misappropriating funds for the campaign. An associate, Andrew Badolato, was sentenced to three years in prison.
Another defendant in the case, Timothy Shea, is set to be sentenced on June 13 after his conviction at trial last October.
Construction of a border wall was a key element of Trump’s hardline immigration policies during his presidency, supported by his fellow Republicans but opposed by Democrats and immigrant advocacy groups.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Porter)