A federal judge handed down the maximum sentence of five years in prison on Monday to Charles Littlejohn, a former contractor for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for leaking tax documents of then-President Donald Trump and over a thousand other individuals, including Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott and billionaires Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Elon Musk.
Littlejohn, who had pleaded guilty in October to disclosing tax return information without authorization, faced sentencing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The sentencing came after he provided various publications, including The New York Times and ProPublica, with Trump’s tax returns and several billionaires in 2019 and 2020.
Among the leak victims, Senator Scott spoke at the sentencing hearing, advocating for the maximum prison sentence.
He expressed concerns about the spread of confidential information, emphasizing his family’s uncertainty regarding how or when the leaked information might be used or published.
While Scott called for the maximum penalty, he also criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the case, questioning why Littlejohn faced only one criminal charge for his actions.
He argued that the administration had been more aggressive in pursuing other cases, such as the theft of a diary belonging to presidential daughter Ashley Biden.
The judge, Ana C. Reyes, intervened during Scott’s remarks, stating that the courtroom was not a campaign rally and refraining from entertaining allegations of political corruption at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Reyes raised her concerns about the case, questioning why Littlejohn faced only one charge in his plea agreement.
She expressed dismay over the gravity of Littlejohn’s actions targeting the sitting president and handed down the maximum sentence, emphasizing the profound damage inflicted on the country.
Jonathan Jacobson, a prosecutor from the Department of Justice, called Littlejohn’s actions unprecedented in the history of the IRS.
While prosecutors highlighted the compromised tax information of over 1,000 people and the erosion of public trust in the tax system, they did not explain why only one criminal count was pursued in the plea agreement.
In her sentencing remarks, Reyes emphasized her obligation to prevent declaring “open season” on elected officials and underscored the broader impact of Littlejohn’s actions on thousands of individuals questioning the potential publication or misuse of their tax information.
Before the sentencing, Littlejohn’s attorney, Lisa Manning, argued that her client’s actions were motivated by a belief that voters should know about the president’s tax information and the tax practices of the wealthy. Manning maintained that Littlejohn’s actions, while misguided, did not stem from malice or greed.
Littlejohn spoke at the hearing, expressing a “sincere if misguided” belief that his actions would serve the common good. However, Reyes rejected any notion of nobility or morality in Littlejohn’s actions, highlighting that he deliberately sought a job with access to taxpayer information, including that of the president.
Reyes detailed how Littlejohn first stole Trump’s tax return information, which was provided to The New York Times for a pre-election story in September 2020.
Subsequently, he stole information from thousands of wealthy individuals, providing it to ProPublica, which published details about the tax practices of Bezos, Buffett, and others in 2021.