Charles Littlejohn, Who Leaked Trump’s Tax Returns, Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison
A former Internal Revenue Service contractor accused of leaking the tax documents of Donald J. Trump and other wealthy Americans was sentenced on Monday to five years in prison.
The former contractor, Charles Littlejohn, known as Chaz, worked for the tax agency from 2017 to 2021, when he stole the tax records of thousands of the country’s wealthiest people, including Mr. Trump, prosecutors said. Mr. Littlejohn then provided the information to The New York Times and ProPublica.
Prosecutors said his actions “appear to be unparalleled in the I.R.S.’s history.”
Mr. Littlejohn, 38, pleaded guilty late last year to one count of the unauthorized disclosure of tax return information. In addition to five years in prison, which is one of the largest sentences in a federal leak investigation, Mr. Littlejohn was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, 300 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.
“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that those who violate laws intended to protect sensitive tax information will face significant punishment,” Nicole M. Argentieri, the acting assistant attorney general who oversees the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in a statement. Prosecutors said the harm from Mr. Littlejohn’s disclosures were “so extensive and ongoing that it is impossible to quantify.”
A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Trump refused to disclose his tax returns, the first president to do so since the 1970s. The documents, considered critical to understanding his wealth and business practices, drew so much public interest that the I.R.S. commissioner at the time ordered that Mr. Trump’s filings be secured in a special vault.
Mr. Littlejohn, who had also worked as a contractor for the I.R.S. between 2008 and 2013, sought work there again in 2017 with the purpose of stealing Mr. Trump’s tax records, prosecutors said. During that time, prosecutors said, Mr. Littlejohn “weaponized his access to unmasked taxpayer data to further his own personal, political agenda, believing that he was above the law.”
In 2020, citing Mr. Trump’s tax documents, The Times reported that the former president paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he was elected president and that he had not paid any income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years. In 2021, ProPublica published details about how the 25 wealthiest Americans, including Jeff Bezos, Michael R. Bloomberg and Elon Musk paid relatively little in federal income taxes. The disclosures revived Democrats’ calls for imposing a wealth tax.
Senator Rick Scott, a Florida Republican who was also included in ProPublica’s reporting, said in a letter to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland last week that he was among the “thousands of American taxpayers” subjected to “partisan abuse” by Mr. Littlejohn.
A lawyer for Mr. Littlejohn, Lisa Manning, said her client did not disclose the tax documents to benefit himself.
“He committed this offense out of a deep, moral belief that the American people had a right to know the information and sharing it was the only way to effect change,” Ms. Manning wrote in a sentencing memo.
The disclosures fueled longtime accusations that the tax agency acts with political motivation, something agency officials have rebutted. In late 2022, House Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee released six years of Mr. Trump’s tax returns after a yearslong legal fight.