President Of “We Build The Wall” Facing Federal Charges
The president of a political action group known as “We Build the Wall” is facing federal charges related to his income tax filing. Brian G. Kolfage of Miramar Beach, FL is also facing federal charges in New York for fraud and money laundering. He now faces another charge of filing a false tax return and uttering forged documents. Kolfage is alleged to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations including “We Build the Wall” which were deposited directly into his personal checking account. He then failed to report this income on his taxes.
Understanding the charges
This particular defendant is accused of diverting funds earmarked for political PACs and the like to his personal coffers. That is the most basic form of fraud. You tell someone that you’re going to use their money for one thing, then you use it for personal expenses.
Second, another type of fraud is committed when you falsely report information on official forms to the government. Those who fail to disclose or hide income streams are guilty of tax evasion. However, those who falsely report income to the government are guilty of both tax evasion and uttering forged documents.
Creating a forged document for your personal amusement is not a crime. However, “uttering” the forged document is a crime. In this case, “uttering” means filing the false document with the government. Hence, the prosecution can double-dip on the defendant’s actions and charge him with two crimes for the same act.
The crime of fraud
Most defendants when confronted with fraud charges often attempt to defend themselves by saying that they did not know what they were doing. While ignorance of the law is not a defense, in the case of fraud, it actually is (to some extent). You cannot, for instance, accidentally commit fraud. The prosecutor must establish that you intended to deceive someone and benefited from that deception. If you do not benefit from the deception, then the government can charge you with conspiracy to commit fraud. Fraud, however, is the stronger claim.
So, a criminal defendant might say something along the lines of, “I didn’t realize that income had to be reported because it came from a charitable source.” They can also say, despite the appearance that the money was placed into a personal checking account, that none of the money was spent on personal items. They can further claim that money was paid to them legally as a part of their duties operating the charitable donation.
However, the IRS will be prepared for any such defense and the defendant will be in the position of needing to prove the money was not used for personal gain, a reversal of the standard burden of proof because money earmarked for political donation was deposited in the defendant’s personal checking account. Obviously, you do not place charitable donations in your personal checking account and then lie about your income.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa
If you are facing federal charges, the Tampa criminal attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm can help right away. Protect your future by contacting a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer at www.matassinilaw.com .