(WASHINGTON) — A former IRS contractor who pleaded guilty to leaking tax documents belonging to former President Donald Trump and other wealthy Americans was sentenced Monday to five years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000.
Charles Littlejohn pleaded guilty in October to one count of taking tax return information without authorization, for leaking the documents to media outlets in 2019 and 2020.
“The scope and scale [is] unparalleled in the IRS’s history,” U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes said regarding Littlejohn’s crime as she handed down his sentence Monday in Washington, D.C. “You have caused and have risked causing immense harm to thousands of Americans.”
According to a sentencing memo filed by prosecutors, Littlejohn “abused his position by unlawfully disclosing thousands of Americans’ federal tax returns and other private financial information to multiple news organizations” that sources said included the New York Times.
“In the case of Mr. Trump’s tax returns, he was under no legal obligation to disclose them,” Reyes told Littlejohn Monday. “What you did in targeting a sitting president of the United States is an attack on our constitutional democracy.”
Littlejohn testified that he acted out of a “sincere belief” that he was serving a cause, but acknowledged that his actions caused “significant harm.”
The former contractor said he felt that taxpayers “deserved to know” how easy it is for the wealthiest Americans to avoid paying taxes.
His attorney, Lisa Manning, said Littlejohn was deeply sorry for his actions.
“He has very deep remorse, he has deep remorse for the victims,” Manning told the judge. “And if he would, he would take it back.”
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who read a victim impact statement at the hearing, asked the judge to sentence Littlejohn to the maximum amount, saying Littlejohn “abused his position of trust” to “harm Americans,” including Scott and his family.
“Donald Trump, Elon Musk … all attacked for political purposes,” Scott said.
Republic members of the House Ways and Means Committee had asked Judge Reyes, in a letter last week, to sentence Littlejohn to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.
“In our view, the seriousness of the crimes and the context surrounding them justify an upward variance. So that similar conduct is deterred in the future, we respectfully ask that you sentence Mr. Littlejohn to the maximum sentence of five years,” the letter said.
Before handing down the sentence, Judge Reyes said that because only 152 victims had their information published, the scope of the harm is not “necessarily known or done,” pointing out that Littlejohn admitted to leaking tax records belonging to “over a thousand” wealthy taxpayers.
The judge compared Littlejohn’s actions to the actions of some of the Jan 6. defendants she has sentenced.
“It cannot be open season on our elected officials,” Judge Reyes said.
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