A former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contractor has been sentenced to five years in prison for leaking tax records of Donald Trump and other high-net-worth Americans.
Charles Littlejohn, 38, who previously worked as a contractor for the IRS, faced legal consequences for disclosing confidential tax information. The case has drawn significant attention due to the high-profile nature of the individuals whose records were leaked, including former president Donald Trump.
Littlejohn's actions, which he claimed were motivated by moral beliefs, have sparked a debate over privacy and public interest in matters of taxation and wealth, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
In October, Littlejohn admitted his guilt in a court of law.
He acknowledged that he had illegally shared sensitive tax return information without authorization. This plea came after he was charged with the unauthorized disclosure of this confidential information.
Littlejohn, who had aimed to obtain a position at a consulting firm working with the IRS, sought access to Trump's tax records.
The contractor's goal was to expose these records to the public. This intention was rooted in Trump's tenure as president, a time when his tax details were a subject of widespread speculation and interest.
The legal team representing Littlejohn argued that his motivations were not solely political. They presented the viewpoint that Littlejohn was driven by a strong moral conviction. He believed the public had a right to know the information he disclosed.
However, they also acknowledged that he now regrets his actions.
U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes was responsible for deciding Littlejohn's fate.
She ultimately handed down a sentence of five years in prison, aligning with the maximum penalty suggested by federal prosecutors. The prosecution had argued that Littlejohn's actions were politically motivated and compromised the security of personal information.
The defense did not request a specific sentence length but sought a punishment comparable to those handed down in previous similar cases.
They highlighted Littlejohn's motivations as stemming from a moral standpoint rather than mere political spite.
In 2018, Littlejohn surreptitiously downloaded several years of Trump's tax records.
He later shared these records with the New York Times, leading to a series of revealing articles. The Times in 2020 indicated that Trump had not paid income tax in 10 of the 15 years before his election as president.
Trump, during his campaign and tenure as president, was notable for not releasing his tax returns.
This broke a longstanding tradition among major U.S. presidential candidates. It wasn't until 2022 that a U.S. House of Representatives panel released six years of his tax records after a legal struggle.
Further extending the scope of his disclosures, Littlejohn also leaked information about other wealthy Americans to ProPublica.
His intention, as stated by his defense, was to shed light on economic inequality and prompt reforms in the U.S. tax system. ProPublica's reporting, based on the information provided, revealed tactics used by the wealthy to evade income taxes in the U.S.
The documents released by the House panel in 2022 were extensive, encompassing both personal and business tax returns of Trump and his wife, Melania Trump.
These documents, which spanned from 2015 to 2020, showcased significant fluctuations in Trump's income and tax liabilities. They also revealed large deductions and losses claimed by Trump and his wife, resulting in minimal or no income tax payments in several of those years.
The release of nearly 6,000 pages of records included more than 2,700 pages of personal returns from the Trumps.
Additionally, over 3,000 pages were related to Trump's business ventures. These documents provided a comprehensive view of the financial activities and tax strategies employed by Trump and his businesses over the specified period.