A private investigator pleaded guilty today in U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana to illegally attempting to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns, according to a Department of Justice news release.
Court records indicate Jordan Hamlett, 32, of Sunset, Louisiana, made his efforts on September 13, 2016, at a time when the businessman’s tax returns were a central issue in his presidential campaign.
Hamlett tried to get around Internal Revenue Service laws by using Trump’s Social Security number to fill out an application for federal student aid.
After he was able to obtain a Federal Student Aid Identification, he broke the law by using an IRS data retrieval tool in an unsuccessful effort to get his hands on Trump’s tax returns.
Hamlett, who faces a prison term of up to five years, continued to create problems during the time his attorneys were attempting to work out a plea deal, according to court records.
After a federal grand jury indicted Hamlett in November 2016, the judge allowed him to remain free on bond, but the government challenged that decision in a motion filed on July 26, alleging that Hamlett violated the conditions of his bond, while he continued to function as a private investigator.
The motion claimed Hamlett hacked into the social media and email accounts of the husband of one of his clients in an effort to determine if the man was having an affair.
The motion also indicated Hamlett violated his bond by using electronic devices that were not being monitored by the government.
The judge issued a warrant for Hamlett’s arrest on August 9 and Hamlett was returned to jail to await his trial.
Court records indicate he was later released after the judge modified the conditions of his bond.
Hamlett’s lawyers had attempted to mount a “white hat hacker” defense, claiming their client had noble reasons for attempting to access Trump’s tax returns. In a motion to allow that defense, they noted that Hamlett called the Internal Revenue Service on the day he made his hacking effort to tell the agency of vulnerabilities in their system.
The motion that noted that the government had found no evidence that Hamlett had any purpose in mind other than seeing out of curiosity if he could get his hands on the tax records.
After the judge rejected the proposed defense, Hamlett’s attorneys and the federal prosecutors began working on the details of the guilty plea.