IRS Contractor Pleads Guilty to Unauthorized Disclosure of Tax Return Information

IRS Contractor Pleads Guilty to Unauthorized Disclosure of Tax Return Information

IRS Contractor’s Guilty Plea

Charles Littlejohn, a 38-year-old IRS contractor from Washington, D.C., has pleaded guilty to unlawfully disclosing tax return information without authorization.

Littlejohn’s actions have raised serious concerns regarding the security of sensitive taxpayer data.

A Breach of Trust

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland expressed his concern over Littlejohn’s actions, stating, “By using his role as a government contractor to gain access to private tax information, steal that information, and disclose it publicly, Charles Littlejohn broke federal law and betrayed the public’s trust.”

Serious Consequences for Unauthorized Disclosures

Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division emphasized the gravity of unauthorized disclosures of tax return information.

She stated, “The unauthorized theft and disclosure of tax return information by government employees or contractors is a serious breach of the public’s trust.”

Dedication to Investigating Criminal Activity

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has played a pivotal role in uncovering this breach of trust.

Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Trevor Nelson of TIGTA reiterated their commitment to investigating and bringing to justice those who illegally disclose taxpayer information.

Details of Littlejohn’s Wrongdoings

According to court documents, Littlejohn, while working as an IRS government contractor, illicitly obtained tax return information related to a high-ranking government official referred to as “Public Official A.”

Littlejohn employed tactics to conceal the true nature of his queries, allowing him to access tax returns associated with Public Official A, as well as related individuals and entities.

He subsequently circumvented IRS protocols designed to detect and prevent large data transfers, saving the tax returns to personal storage devices.

Sharing Stolen Data with News Organizations

Littlejohn then took the stolen tax return information and provided it to two different news organizations, identified as News Organization 1 and News Organization 2.

News Organization 1 received tax return data associated with Public Official A, which was published in a series of articles in September 2020.

Littlejohn also stole tax return information for thousands of the nation’s wealthiest individuals in July and August 2020 and disclosed it to News Organization 2, which published over 50 articles based on the stolen data.

Obstruction of Investigation

In an attempt to obstruct the impending investigation into his actions, Littlejohn deleted and destroyed evidence related to his disclosures.

Legal Consequences

Littlejohn has pleaded guilty to unauthorized disclosure of tax return and return information. He is set to be sentenced on January 29, 2024, and could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The actual sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge, taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Investigation and Prosecution

The case was diligently investigated, and it is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Lauren Castaldi and Jonathan E. Jacobson of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, with substantial assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Eleanor Hurney for the Northern District of West Virginia.