Jordan Hamlett, left, leaves federal court with his attorney Michael Fiser, after his guilty plea in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Monday, December 11, 2017. The Louisiana private investigator He pleaded guilty in his alleged attempts to access Donald Trump's tax returns during the presidential campaign. Authorities have said that Hamlett failed in his attempts to obtain Trump's tax returns through the US Department of Education's financial aid website. UU The 32-year resident of Lafayette was accused of misusing a Social Security number. His trial had been scheduled to begin this week, but the judge originally badigned to the case died on Saturday. (AP Photo / Gerald Herbert)
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BATON ROUGE, La. – A Louisiana private investigator pleaded guilty on Monday to misusing Donald Trump's social security number in repeated attempts to access the president's federal tax information before his election last year.
Jordan Hamlett, 32, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $ 250,000 fine after his conviction in federal court.
Authorities have said that Hamlett failed in his attempts to obtain Trump's tax information through the financial aid website of the US Department of Education.
has refused to publish his tax returns, rejecting a US tradition honored by all presidents since Jimmy Carter.
A court document accompanying the Hamlett agreement states that he used Trump's social security number and other personal information to open an online application on September 13, 2016. After obtaining a username and pbadword, he tried use a data recovery tool from the Internal Revenue Service to obtain Tr The tax information of the ump, says the document.
"The defendant made six separate attempts to obtain federal tax information from the IRS servers, but it was not successful," the document says. It does not specify what part of Trump's tax information could have been obtained with the online tool.
Hamlett, a resident of Lafayette, was formally charged in November 2016. His trial had been scheduled to begin this week, but the judge originally badigned to the case died on Saturday after a brief illness. Judge John DeGravelles, who inherited the case, did not immediately schedule Hamlett's sentencing hearing.
Defense attorney Michael Fiser had argued that Hamlett had no "intention to cheat" and simply tried "out of sheer curiosity." to find out if Trump's tax information could be accessed through the government's website.
After Hamlett's guilty plea, Fiser said his client "still has a long way to go" while awaiting his sentencing.
"We felt, under the circumstances, it was time to accept all responsibility and move forward to achieve closure," Fiser said.
Federal agents confronted Hamlett two weeks before the election last November and interrogated him in the lobby of a Baton Rouge hotel. At that time, the agents did not know if Hamlett had been successful, and feared that a publication of Trump's tax returns could influence the election, according to a transcript of court testimony earlier this year.
Special Agent of the Treasury Department Samuel Johnson testified in March that Hamlett immediately attributed his "brilliant idea" to look for Trump's tax returns on the financial aid website.
Johnson noted that an Internet hacking group calling itself Anonymous was in Trump.
"At that time, Anonymous had established himself as people who had divulged personal information about President Trump and things of that nature," Johnson said.
Federal prosecutors asked Judge James Brady to prohibit Hamlett's attorney from presenting a trial defense that he acting as a benevolent "white hat" hacker. Brady, a senior federal judge who died Saturday in a Baton Rouge hospital, ruled last month that Hamlett could not testify that he had a "good purpose" in trying to prove security flaws in the website.
Fiser said Hamlett had tried to call and notify the IRS about the failures last September, the same day he tried to electronically access Trump's tax records.
Fiser said that Hamlett liked to test security systems for weaknesses in his free time and would notify system administrators if he found a system vulnerable to a security breach. Hamlett discovered a security breach that allowed public access to the "unprocessed" reports from the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office about open investigations and exposed personal information about police officers.
"Hamlett tipped the sheriff's office to judgment and was met with recognition, not an arrest," his lawyer wrote in a recent court appearance.
After his formal indictment, Hamlett was arrested again in August for allegedly violating the terms of his probation. Prosecutors said he committed "numerous violations," including the hacking of emails and social media accounts of a man at the request of the man's wife.