Chicago (AFP) – A private investigator in the US state of Louisiana will spend 18 months in prison for failed efforts to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax information during the contentious 2016 election.
A federal judge in the city of Baton Rouge handed down the sentence Wednesday against Jordan Hamlett, who had pleaded guilty to the scheme and faced as much as five years in jail.
Two months before the November 2016 election, the 32-year-old used Trump’s social security number — a common identifier used for everything from credit card applications to tax filing — to open an online student loan application.
Hamlett unsuccessfully tried to trick the Education Department’s online system into pulling Trump’s tax information from Internal Revenue Service records.
“Attempts to obtain federal tax information of any American through fraudulent or deceptive practices by illegally using personal identifying information will not be tolerated,” federal prosecutor Brandon Fremin said in a statement.
Hamlett was also ordered to pay nearly $15,000 to the Education Department for the costs it incurred in dealing with the fraudulent application.
Hamlett’s lawyers have claimed that he was simply interested in discovering potential vulnerabilities in online systems.
He apologized to the judge Wednesday and said his actions had cost him his home and career, according to The Times-Picayune newspaper.
“I was trying to help, and I made a bad decision,” Hamlett reportedly said.
Trump has refused to release his complete tax records, reversing the standard held by all presidential candidates and office holders since Jimmy Carter in the 1970s.