The U.S. Department of Justice announced criminal charges on Friday against a contractor with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who is accused of stealing the tax returns of former President Donald Trump and distributing the material to the media.
Federal law enforcement officials announced the charges against 38-year-old Charles Edward Littlejohn, who was a contractor with the IRS from 2018 to 2020. The company that Littlejohn was working for was not identified and it was not clear “why a contractor had access to sensitive taxpayer information that is supposed to be protected by numerous legal and procedural safeguards,” The New York Times added.
“While Defendant was working on an IRS contract, he stole tax returns and return information associated with Public Official A and thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, including returns and return information dating back more than 15 years,” court documents say. “He thereafter disclosed the tax information associated with Public Official A to News Organization 1 and the other tax information to News Organization 2. Both news organizations published numerous articles describing the tax information they obtained from the Defendant.”
While the identity of Public Official A is not mentioned in the court documents, numerous publications reported that Trump is the figure in question.
The two news organizations, which were also not mentioned in the charging documents, were The New York Times and ProPublica, according to various media reports. The news organizations have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Littlejohn was charged with one count of Disclosure of Tax Return and Return Information and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
The charging documents said that if Littlejohn is convicted, “all property he has used in violating the provisions of the internal revenue laws is subject to forfeiture.”