Charles Littlejohn, 38, the former IRS contractor responsible for leaking tax records of former President Donald Trump to The New York Times and exposing the financial details of billionaires such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk to ProPublica, was sentenced to five years in federal prison on Monday.
Littlejohn, who had previously pleaded guilty in October, faced a courtroom hearing at the federal courthouse in Washington, where US District Judge Ana C. Reyes presided over the case.
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Prosecutors pressed for the maximum statutory sentence, emphasizing that Littlejohn had “abused his position by unlawfully disclosing thousands of Americans’ federal tax returns and other private financial information to multiple news organizations.”
According to prosecutors, Littlejohn not only breached the trust placed in him by the US government but also “weaponized his access to unmasked taxpayer data to further his own personal, political agenda, believing that he was above the law.” The court also imposed a $5,000 fine on Littlejohn as part of the sentencing.
Judge Reyes, during the hearing, condemned Littlejohn’s actions, describing the leak as an “attack on our constitutional democracy.” She drew parallels between his conduct and other recent attacks on elected officials, including those involved in the January 6 events.
While acknowledging the complexity of Littlejohn’s deliberate, multiyear criminal scheme, Judge Reyes noted that he seemed to have a “sincere moral imperative” but stressed that he was not above the law.
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Littlejohn’s attorney argued that his client acted “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.” Despite acknowledging the inexcusable nature of Littlejohn’s conduct, the defence highlighted that a “strong message of general deterrence” had already been sent to the public.
In a brief address to the court before receiving his sentence, the 38-year-old Littlejohn, who grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, stated that he “acted out of a sincere but misguided belief that I was serving the public.”
He contended that taxpayers deserved to know about the ease with which the wealthy could avoid paying into the system. Littlejohn expressed his belief that Americans make their best decisions when properly informed, acknowledging that he anticipated the legal consequences of his actions.
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