Authored by Caden Pearson via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
The Department of Justice told a sentencing judge on Wednesday that a former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) contractor took the job specifically to steal and leak President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Washington resident Charles Littlejohn pleaded guilty in October last year to one count of unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information after he was accused of stealing and leaking data associated with President Trump and other wealthy individuals.
In a 15-page filing, prosecutors pushed for the maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison, arguing that Mr. Littlejohn’s betrayal of the public trust “merits significant punishment.”
Mr. Littlejohn had access to “vast amounts of unmasked taxpayer data” when he worked for Booz Allen, a consulting firm working with public and private clients mostly on IRS contracts, between 2008 and 2013.
After President Trump took office in 2017, Mr. Littlejohn sought to return to work for Booz Allen “with the intention of accessing and disclosing” the tax returns of the president, whom he viewed as “dangerous and a threat to democracy,” according to prosecutors.
Mr. Littlejohn “weaponized his access to unmasked taxpayer data to further his own personal, political agenda, believing that he was above the law,” prosecutors said.
This went on for more than two years, with multiple news organizations receiving unlawfully leaked private tax returns and other private financial information.
Prosecutors did not name the news organizations that received the stolen tax returns in court records, but ProPublica and The New York Times published multiple articles reporting on the leaked documents.
“A free press and public engagement with the media are critical to any healthy democracy, but stealing and leaking private, personal tax information strips individuals of the legal protection of their most sensitive data,” prosecutors said in the filing.
“Everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law,” they continued.
Prosecutors, pushing for the maximum sentence, argued that Mr. Littlejohn leaked the tax returns of over a thousand individuals, resulting in significant harm, including invasion of privacy and psychological distress. They charge that Mr. Littlejohn’s crime “has undermined public faith and confidence in the IRS, an institution that is critical to the effective functioning of our government.”
Mr. Littlejohn received access to unmasked taxpayer data in February 2018, and by the end of the year, he had developed “a sophisticated, detailed plan” to secretly download President Trump’s tax returns from a particular internal IRS database without detection, according to the filing.
To avoid triggering scrutiny, Mr. Littlejohn searched for the president’s private data “using more generalized parameters” that would nevertheless collect the tax return and return information.
To extract the data without detection, Mr. Littlejohn exploited a loophole in IRS protocols by uploading the stolen files to a private website he controlled. He then used a personal computer to download the files and made copies, which he stored on an Apple iPod that he had configured as a personal hard drive.
Mr. Littlejohn shopped the tax returns around to a news outlet in May 2019, with one of the publications publishing more than 50 articles using the stolen data.
In September 2020, The New York Times reported that it had obtained the 2016 and 2017 tax records of President Trump, who was in office at the time.
In June 2021, ProPublica published the private tax return information of billionaires such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Peter Thiel, and others.
Mr. Littlejohn allegedly also obstructed the investigation into his conduct by deleting and destroying evidence of his disclosures.
It is not clear how officials were able to detect Mr. Littlejohn’s behavior.
Booz Allen’s spokesperson told Fox News that the firm fully supports the investigation into Mr. Littlejohn’s actions.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the actions of this individual, who was active with the company years ago. We have zero tolerance for violations of the law and operate under the highest ethical and professional guidelines. We fully supported the U.S. government in its investigation into this matter,” the spokesperson said.