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Press Release

Haverford College Student Pleads Guilty to Attempt to Access President Trump’s Tax Information

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Justin Hiemstra, 22, from St. Paul Park, Minnesota, entered a plea of guilty before United States District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe on charges related to violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1030 for using a school computer and someone else’s username without that person’s permission in an attempt to illegally obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service. 

These charges arose out of a plot between the defendant, then a student at Haverford College, and another Haverford College student, to use computers at the school’s computer lab and the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) website to illegally access the tax returns.  The defendant opened a false FAFSA application in the name of a member of the Trump family, and found that someone else had already obtained a username and password for Donald Trump.  In order to reset the password, the defendant was prompted to answer challenge questions, which the original person had created when setting up the account.  The defendant was able to answer the questions and reset the password, and then used the President’s personal identifier information, including his social security number and date of birth, to attempt to import the President’s federal tax information into the bogus FAFSA application.  Ultimately, this illegal attempt failed.

“No matter what you think about the President’s tax returns, clearly this kind of illegal activity cannot be tolerated or condoned.  Unauthorized or false attempts to obtain any citizen’s IRS filings are a serious violation of privacy rights and a federal crime, and there’s nothing funny about it,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.  “Now this defendant is being held accountable for his actions, as he should be.”

The case was investigated by the Department of Education – Office of Inspector General and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anthony J. Wzorek.


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Updated August 6, 2019