Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A former Internal Revenue Service consultant who pleaded guilty to leaking the tax records of former President Donald Trump to The New York Times drew a five-year prison sentence from a federal judge Monday.
Charles Littlejohn received the maximum sentence allowed by law from U.S. District Judge Ana Reyes, who agreed with prosecutors that his actions in leaking Trump's records, along with others involving thousands of the nation's wealthiest people, deserved stiff punishment.
Littlejohn, 38, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty to one count of disclosing tax return information without authorization in October.
"What you did in targeting the sitting president of the United States was an attack on our constitutional democracy," Reyes said during Monday's hearing in Washington, according to NBC News.
"The scope and scale of defendant's unlawful disclosures appear to be unparalleled in the IRS's history," prosecutors said in their sentencing memo. "There simply is no precedent for a case involving the disclosure of tax return and return information associated with 'over a thousand' individuals and entities."
Citing "the immense number of victims" and the "enormous" human impact of Littlejohn's crimes, the government urged an upward departure from the normal sentencing range to the statutory maximum of 60 months in prison.
The Department of Justice accused Littlejohn, while working at the IRS as a government contractor, of stealing tax return information associated with "a high-ranking government official" later identified as Trump, and giving the info to an unnamed news organization, subsequently identified as the Times.
They said he accessed returns through an IRS database after using broad search parameters designed to conceal the true purpose of his queries, then took steps to evade IRS protocols set up to detect and prevent large downloads from its system.
After saving tax returns to multiple personal storage devices including an iPod, Littlejohn contacted the news organization, which used the information to publish a "series of articles" about the official's tax returns.
The Times published articles with the use of the stolen information in September 2020. They revealed Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 years of a 15-year span ending in 2017.
Littlejohn was also accused of stealing tax information for "thousands of the nation's wealthiest individuals" and leaking the information to another unnamed news organization, believed to be ProPublica, which published more than 50 articles using the stolen data.
That theft involved tax information pertaining to billionaires such as Amazon.com owner Jeff Bezos and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
During his sentencing appearance, Littlejohn said he "acted out of a sincere misguided belief," CNN reported, adding, "We as a country make the best decisions when we are all properly informed."