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Leniency on Tap for Anti-Trump Leaker of Thousands of Tax Returns


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Another apparent "sweetheart deal" negotiated by President Biden’s Justice Department in a politically charged case is drawing scrutiny.

Former IRS contractor Charles Edward Littlejohn, who stole and helped publicize the confidential tax records of Donald Trump and

an estimated 7,500 other wealthy Americans, could face little or no jail time when he's sentenced later this month, because the

DOJ allowed him to plead guilty to a single felony count.

In a new court filing, prosecutors acknowledge the plea deal “does not account for the fact that he leaked thousands of individuals’ tax returns. His [sentencing] range would be the same today if he had leaked only a single return.”

But instead of seeking prison time for each of his offenses – or even for the two separate mass thefts he committed, one in 2019 and another in 2020 – the DOJ is asking a federal judge to sentence Littlejohn to just 60 months, the maximum for a single offense under the statute. Some political leaders angry over the plea deal say he should get 60 years, not months, for his crime – the biggest heist of IRS taxpayer data in history.

Attorneys for Littlejohn, 38, argue he actually deserves an even lower sentence, closer to the presentencing report’s range of four to 10 months, in part because he leaked the reams of stolen private income-tax data to "reputable news organizations – the New York Times and ProPublica – that he knew would handle the information responsibly.” They say a 60-month term is “equivalent to a 15-level upward departure” from the range prosecutors originally agreed to in the plea deal, and such a wide departure would be unprecedented.

 

Timeline

The D.C. judge deciding Littlejohn’s fate “does not have unfettered discretion to depart from the applicable sentencing guidelines,” Littlejohn’s attorney Lisa Manning advised the court in papers filed last week.

U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes, a Biden appointee who has a record of meting out lenient sentences, will decide his punishment on Jan. 29.

Trump lawyer: Littlejohn’s admission of guilt looks "more like a Hunter Biden plea deal.”

The Times and ProPublica published dozens of stories based on the personal tax files the former Booz Allen Hamilton contractor electronically smuggled out of the IRS. Those articles largely advanced Democratic calls for further investigations into Trump and the need to raise taxes on the wealthy.

Against the backdrop of prosecutions of Donald Trump in an election year and the collapse of Hunter Biden’s earlier no-jail plea deal, which a Delaware judge rejected because it was “not straightforward” and contained “atypical provisions,” Littlejohn’s plea agreement is raising new questions about the politicization of justice.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba said Littlejohn’s admission of guilt looks "more like a Hunter Biden plea deal.” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith agreed, complaining he’s getting off “with just a slap on the wrist.”:snip:

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Ex-IRS contractor sentenced to 5 years in prison for leaking Trump tax records

WASHINGTON — The former Internal Revenue Service contractor who leaked the tax records of former President Donald Trump to The New York Times as well as the tax records of billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to ProPublica was sentenced Monday to five years in prison.

Charles Littlejohn pleaded guilty in October, and prosecutors sought the statutory maximum of five years in federal prison, saying that he "abused his position by unlawfully disclosing thousands of Americans’ federal tax returns and other private financial information to multiple news organizations." Prosecutors said that Littlejohn "weaponized his access to unmasked taxpayer data to further his own personal, political agenda, believing that he was above the law."

Littlejohn was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ana C. Reyes at a hearing at the federal courthouse in Washington. He will also have to pay a $5,000 fine.

 

“You can be an outstanding person and commit bad acts,” Reyes said. “What you did in targeting the sitting president of the United States was an attack on our constitutional democracy,” she added. 

Reyes compared Littlejohn’s actions to other recent attacks and threats against elected officials as well as to Jan. 6 defendants she has recently sentenced. She described his actions as a deliberate, complex, multiyear criminal scheme, but said she believed he “sincerely felt a moral imperative” to act as he did.

Littlejohn's attorney argued that he had committed the 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" and that he believed he was right at the time.:snip:

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