NEW YORK (AP) — Steve Bannon’s latest legal trouble: A lawsuit alleging he defrauded his former lawyers out of more than $480,000.
Bannon, a conservative strategist and longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was sued for breach of contract last week by a Manhattan law firm that defended him in several recent high-profile legal battles.
The firm, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, represented Bannon from 2020 to 2022 in matters including criminal cases stemming from his refusal to comply with a congressional subpoena and allegations that he misled donors who gave money to build a wall in the US southern border
The firm said it also helped Bannon secure a presidential pardon just before Trump left office in 2021.
Davidoff Hutcher & Citron said in its lawsuit that Bannon racked up a bill totaling more than $855,000 but only paid $375,000, in violation of his retainer agreement.
The firm seeks a payment of $480,487, plus interest and legal costs, for its lawsuit against Bannon.
Messages seeking comment were left for Bannon.
Trump’s pardon, in January 2021, forced federal prosecutors to drop the ban on a criminal case related to the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign. Manhattan prosecutors revived the matter in September with charges at the state level, which are not covered by presidential pardons.
Bannon, 69, has pleaded not guilty to money laundering, conspiracy, fraud and other charges.
The New York case is pending with even more legal drama: Bannon has until next week to find new lawyers after his current lawyers, who are not affiliated with Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, said they have “irreconcilable” differences on how to proceed. .
Bannon is accused of falsely promising donors that all money given to “We Build the Wall” would go toward building a wall on the US-Mexico border, rather than using the funds to enrich the people involved in the wall. project. Prosecutors say Bannon was involved in transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to third-party entities and using it to funnel payments to two other people involved in the scheme.
The Manhattan indictment did not identify those people by name, but the details match those of Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, who pleaded guilty to federal charges in April. A third defendant, Timothy Shea, was convicted in October.
Bannon was convicted last July in contempt for defying a subpoena by the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. He was sentenced in October to four months in jail. But he remains free while he appeals.
A former US Navy officer and Harvard MBA, Bannon worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and as a Hollywood producer before entering politics. One of his most notable deals left him with a share of the “Seinfeld” royalties.
He took over the conservative news site Breitbart News in 2012, played a prominent role in the late stages of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and worked at the White House for about seven months as Trump’s chief strategist. He now hosts a pro-Trump podcast called “Bannon’s War Room.”
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