MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — National Butterfly Center Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright told Border Report on Friday that she was “thrilled” after the founder of We Build The Wall pleaded guilty in a New York federal court to conspiracy and tax fraud.
Treviño-Wright and the North American Butterfly Association, parent company of the National Butterfly Center, have a defamation lawsuit pending in a South Texas court against We Build The Wall founder Brian Kolfage and the organization.
Kolfage on Thursday admitted in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that he had conspired to secretly take more than $350,000 from donations crowdsources by the organization to build two private walls on the border with Mexico, including one built in Mission, Texas, adjacent to the National Butterfly Center.
“We know from court testimony that they actually sought to buy the land right next door to us. Because as part of their fundraising scheme they defamed and disparaged the Center and me personally,” Treviño-Wright told Border Report.
Kolfage has agreed to forfeit $17.8 million and pleaded guilty to fraud as part of an agreement reached with federal prosecutors in New York.
He admitted to siphoning off money sent by donors for himself and pleaded guilty to tax crimes for failing to report that income.
The indictment, filed in August 2020, alleges that Kolfage “falsely assured the public” that he would “not take a penny in salary or compensation” and that 100% of all donated funds would go to building the wall.
The amputee and war veteran faces five years in prison.
Andrew Badolato also pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving We Build The Wall and faces up to 4.5 years in prison.
Both were staunch supporters of former President Donald Trump and his objective to build a wall on the southern border. When the miles failed to materialize, We Build The Wall began crowdsourcing and raised $25 million from donations to build two private border wall segments.
Treviño-Wright’s lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial on Oct. 31 in Edinburg, Texas.