Charles Edward Littlejohn, a former contractor at the U.S. Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS), has been sentenced to 60 months in prison. Littlejohn, who became infamously known as the “Trump Leaker,” was convicted for the unauthorized disclosure of thousands of Americans’ federal tax returns, including those of former President Donald Trump.
Littlejohn’s actions, which were initially cloaked in a veil of political activism, crossed the line into criminality, as outlined in the government’s sentencing from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Between 2008 and 2013, Littlejohn worked intermittently for a consulting firm on contracts with the IRS. During this period, he had access to vast amounts of unmasked taxpayer data. However, it was in 2017 that Littlejohn’s intentions took a nefarious turn. Motivated by a personal political agenda, he sought to access and disclose tax returns, particularly targeting then-President Trump, whom he viewed as a threat to democracy.
The prosecution detailed a sophisticated scheme where Littlejohn, exploiting his access to IRS databases, downloaded and leaked Trump’s tax returns without detection. His plan did not stop at Trump; he also accessed and disclosed tax information of thousands of wealthy Americans. These actions were not only a breach of trust but also a violation of a law that imposes criminal liability for the unauthorized disclosure of tax returns.
The gravity of Littlejohn’s offense was compounded by his efforts to obstruct the subsequent investigation. He deleted files, destroyed virtual machines used in his scheme, and took steps to erase his digital footprints. These actions, according to the government, merited the statutory maximum sentence of 60 months’ imprisonment.
U.S. District Judge Ana C. Reyes handed down the sentence to Littlejohn at a Washington federal courthouse proceeding. In addition to his sentence, he is required to pay a fine of $5,000.
“You can be an outstanding person and commit bad acts,” Reyes said according to NBC News. “What you did in targeting the sitting president of the United States was an attack on our constitutional democracy,” she continued.
Reyes drew parallels between Littlejohn’s conduct and other recent assaults and threats against government officials, as well as with individuals involved in the events of January 6th whom she has sentenced. She characterized his behavior as a purposeful, intricate, and prolonged criminal plot, yet acknowledged her belief that he “sincerely felt a moral imperative” to undertake such actions.
Littlejohn’s lawyer contended that his actions were driven by “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,” stressing his conviction in the righteousness of his actions at the time.
Although acknowledging that Littlejohn’s behavior was “inexcusable” and represented “a breach of the trust bestowed upon him by the United States government, infringing upon the privacy of thousands of taxpayers,” the attorney pointed out that the case had already conveyed a “strong message of general deterrence” to the broader public.
38-year-old Littlejohn, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, briefly spoke to the court prior to his sentencing. He expressed that his actions stemmed from a “sincere but misguided belief that I was serving the public.”
Littlejohn further elaborated that taxpayers needed awareness of the ease with which affluent individuals could evade contributing to the system. He held the view that the best decisions by Americans are made when they are adequately informed.
“I made my decision with the full knowledge that I would likely end up in a courtroom,” he stated.