Brian Kolfage pleads not guilty to federal tax charges in Florida

Brian Kolfage pleads not guilty to federal tax charges in Florida

PENSACOLA — Brian Kolfage, the Miramar Beach wounded warrior already scheduled for a federal trial in New York on fraud and money laundering conspiracy charges, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pensacola to federal charges of filing a false tax return and wire fraud in connection with the electronic filing of that 2019 return.

Both sets of charges are connected with We Build The Wall Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit organization founded by Kolfage in 2019 to collect donations for private construction of sections of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

An Aug. 2 date was set Wednesday for trial on the Florida charges, with the case going to District Judge M.C. Rodgers. Outside the courthouse after the brief proceedings, Kolfage was greeted by an enthusiastic group of about 20 supporters.

Previously:Judge denies Brian Kolfage’s request to tap We Build the Wall accounts to pay his lawyers

Pardoned:Steve Bannon formally dismissed from We Build The Wall fraud case

Brian Kolfage, the Miramar Beach wounded warrior who founded a nonprofit organization to privately fund construction of sections of U.S.-Mexico border wall, is facing federal charges in Florida and New York in connection with allegedly improperly receiving donations to the nonprofit organization.

The trial date was set as part of Kolfage’s arraignment in Pensacola in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Hope T. Cannon. Kolfage was represented by a federal public defender, but plans to retain private counsel. His search for counsel will be the subject of a June 14 status conference in the case, unless he has counsel on record before that date.

Kolfage had been set for arraignment on the charges last week, but the date was moved to give him time to retain private counsel. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Goldberg noted that the proceedings already had been continued once since the May 4 indictment by a grand jury. Goldberg suggested to Kolfage that the court likely would not continue to set status conferences to allow him to continue his search for counsel. As a matter of policy, Goldberg did not answer questions after the arraignment. 

Wounded warrior Brian Kolfage poses with supporters outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Pensacola on Wednesday after pleading not guilty to federal tax charges.

Outside the courtroom, Kolfage said only that he was searching for the right counsel to represent him on the Florida charges. It’s possible, he said, that his counsel in the New York case could represent him in Florida.

Before Wednesday’s proceedings, Kolfage said, “I’m not giving any comment on it (the Florida case) today.” Asked if he knew in advance about the show of support that was unfolding outside the courthouse even before proceedings began, he said, “I’d heard some rumblings about it.”    

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