A former contractor with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who leaked former President Donald Trump’s tax returns was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for disclosing “thousands of tax returns” without proper authorization.
The U.S. Department of Justice noted in a press release that 38-year-old Charles Edward Littlejohn, who worked as an IRS contractor from 2018 to 2020, “stole” the tax return information of a “high-ranking government official” and shared the information with a news organization. The high-ranking government official was previously identified as Trump.
According to The Daily Wire, Littlejohn pleaded guilty in October to the unauthorized disclosure of tax return information after the Department of Justice brought criminal charges against the former IRS contractor in September.
In addition to stealing and leaking the tax return information of the former president, Littlejohn stole tax information belonging to thousands of wealthy and powerful figures in the United States, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
“Charles Littlejohn abused his position as a consultant at the Internal Revenue Service by disclosing thousands of Americans’ federal tax returns and other private financial information to news organizations,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said. “He violated his responsibility to safeguard the sensitive information that was entrusted to his care, and now he is a convicted felon.”
Argentieri added that Littlejohn’s sentence to five years in prison “sends a strong message” that anyone who breaks laws intended to safeguard the private information of U.S. citizens will “face significant punishment.”
The Daily Wire reported that Littlejohn was sentenced with the maximum penalty for his crime by Judge Ana Reyes, who was appointed by President Joe Biden.
“When you target the sitting president of the United States, you’re targeting the office and when you’re targeting the office of the president of the United States, you’re targeting democracy — you’re targeting our constitutional system of government,” Reyes said. “It cannot be open season on our elected officials — it just can’t.”
Litlejohn’s case was investigated by the Treasure Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). In Monday’s press release, Acting Inspector General for the TIGTA Heather Hill said Littlejohn’s case should “serve as a warning” for other individuals considering the theft and unauthorized disclosure of taxpayer information.
Hill warned, “TIGTA relentlessly investigates individuals who illicitly access and disclose taxpayer information, regardless of their personal motivation.”