Federal prosecutors announced on Friday that a former consultant for the Internal Revenue Service has been charged with disclosing the tax returns of former President Donald Trump to The New York Times while he was in office.
Thirty-eight-year-old Charles Littlejohn, a resident of Washington, D.C., was identified by the Justice Department as the suspect. The federal complaint from the DOJ alleged that Littlejohn disclosed the tax returns of “thousands of the nation’s wealthiest individuals” to news organizations and tax information associated with a “high-ranking government official” to a different news outlet.
After disclosing tax returns to The New York Times, Littlejohn allegedly sent stolen tax information to ProPublica, a New York City-based nonprofit investigative journalism group, which later published a report about how billionaires like Elon Musk, Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos pay little in income taxes relative to their massive wealth.
Court documents said that the returns dated back more than 15 years, and prosecutors allege that Littlejohn stole the tax returns between 2018 and 2020. Trump is not named in the complaint.
“Littlejohn is charged with one count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison,” the DOJ said in a news release.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the IRS’s internal watchdog, is investigating the case. A guilty plea is reportedly in the works.
Littlejohn was working as a contractor for the IRS when he allegedly stole Trump’s tax returns and gave them to The New York Times, which would go on to publish several stories on the former president’s taxes while he was still in office.
IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told The Associated Press that “any disclosure of taxpayer information is unacceptable” and that the agency has since tightened security.
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