Lawsuit: Steve Bannon owes $480K for unpaid legal bills

February 23, 2023 GMT
FILE - Former White House strategist Steve Bannon waits for his arraignment in Manhattan State Supreme Court after surrendering to authorities on Sept. 8, 2022, in New York. Bannon, a conservative strategist and longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was sued for breach of contract Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, by a Manhattan law firm that defended him in several recent high-profile legal battles. (Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool, File)
FILE - Former White House strategist Steve Bannon waits for his arraignment in Manhattan State Supreme Court after surrendering to authorities on Sept. 8, 2022, in New York. Bannon, a conservative strategist and longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, was sued for breach of contract Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, by a Manhattan law firm that defended him in several recent high-profile legal battles. (Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP, Pool, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Steve Bannon’s latest legal trouble: a lawsuit alleging he stiffed 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 from allegations that he duped donors who gave money to build a wall on the southern U.S. border.

The firm said it also aided Bannon in obtaining 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 that he has only paid $375,000, in violation of his retainer agreement.

The firm is seeking 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 Bannon from a criminal case involving the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign. Manhattan prosecutors revived the matter in September with state-level charges, which aren’t 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 yet more legal drama: Bannon has until next week to find new lawyers after his current attorneys, who are not affiliated with Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, said they have “irreconcilable” differences about how to proceed.

Bannon is accused of falsely promising donors that all money given to “We Build the Wall” would go to building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, instead using the funds to enrich people involved in the project. Prosecutors say Bannon was involved in transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to third-party entities and using them to funnel payments to two other people involved in the scheme.

The Manhattan indictment didn’t 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 of contempt for defying a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He was sentenced in October to four months in jail. But he remains free while he appeals.

Bannon, a former U.S. Navy officer and Harvard MBA, worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and as a Hollywood producer before turning to politics. One of his most notable deals left him with a share of “Seinfeld” royalties.

He took over the conservative news site Breitbart News in 2012, had a leading role in the late stages of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and worked in 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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Follow Michael Sisak on Twitter at twitter.com/mikesisak