NEW YORK (AP) — A Colorado businessman convicted of fraudulently siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from an online fundraiser to build a wall along the U.S. southern border has been sentenced to five years and three months in prison.
Timothy Shea was sentenced Tuesday in Manhattan federal court after a jury convicted him last October of two conspiracy counts and an obstruction of justice charge. He said nothing when he was asked to comment as he left the building.
Another jury deadlocked on charges in the spring after 11 jurors wrote a note to the judge to say one juror had accused the others of being politically biased and suggesting the trial should be held in the South.
Prosecutor: ‘We Build The Wall’ fundraiser cheated donors
Shea, of Castle Rock, Colorado, was charged two years ago along with three others, including Steve Bannon, the former top adviser to then-President Donald Trump. Bannon, who is now being prosecuted in state court, was pardoned by Trump just before he left office. Two others have pleaded guilty.
With its verdict, the jury rejected arguments by Shea’s lawyer, John Meringolo, that prosecutors had failed to prove there was fraud in the promotion of the “We Build The Wall” fundraiser that attracted $25 million in donations from hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
Meringolo also encouraged jurors during closing arguments to conclude that New York was an improper venue for the trial.
'We Build The Wall' trial ends in mistrial; jury deadlocked
He also tried to convince them that his client had a right to accept reimbursement of extensive expenses related to the wall because he had done substantial work negotiating with homeowners on whose property the wall would be built and providing security for the construction. Only a few miles of wall were built.
Shea owns an energy drink company, Winning Energy, whose cans have featured a cartoon superhero image of Trump and claim to contain “12 oz. of liberal tears.”
Retrial of Colorado man in border wall fraud case begins
After the verdict last October, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that Shea and his codefendants lied to donors and “stole over $25 million from their victims.”
Shea’s attorney Meringolo said, “We respect the jury’s verdict.”
Bannon, 68, pleaded not guilty in September to New York state charges alleging that he cheated investors to the “We Build The Wall” campaign. Presidential pardons apply only to federal crimes.