WASHINGTON (AP) — hunter biden was indicted on nine tax charges in California on Thursday as a special counsel investigation into the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son intensifies against the backdrop of the impending 2024 election.
The new charges — three felonies and six misdemeanors — are in addition to federal firearms charges in Delaware that allege Hunter Biden violated laws against drug users who had guns in 2018. They come after the implosion of a plea deal over the summer that would have spared him jail time. time, moving the case toward a possible trial while his father campaigns for re-election.
Hunter Biden “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle instead of paying his taxes,” special counsel David Weiss said in a statement. The charges center on at least $1.4 million in taxes Hunter Biden owed between 2016 and 2019, a period in which he has acknowledged struggling with addiction. The back taxes have since been paid.
If convicted, Hunter Biden, 53, could receive a maximum sentence of 17 years in prison. The special counsel’s investigation remains open, Weiss said.
In a fiery response, defense attorney Abbe Lowell accused Weiss of “caving in to Republican pressure” in the case.
“According to the facts and the law, if Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, charges would not have been filed in Delaware, and now in California,” Lowell said in a statement.
The White House declined to comment on Thursday’s allegation, referring questions to the Justice Department or Hunter Biden’s personal representatives.
Charging documents filed in California, where he lives, detail spending on everything from drugs and strippers to luxury hotels and exotic cars — “in short, everything but his taxes,” wrote prosecutor Leo Wise.
The impeachment comes as congressional Republicans pursue a impeachment inquiry against President Biden, alleging that he was involved in an influence peddling scheme with his son. The House is expected to vote next week on formally authorizing the investigation.
No evidence has so far emerged to show that Joe Biden, in his current or previous role, has abused his role or accepted bribes, although questions have been raised about the ethics surrounding the Biden family’s international business dealings.
The separate, long-running criminal investigation into Hunter Biden was expected to end with a plea deal in which he would have received two years of probation after pleading guilty to lesser tax offenses and avoided prosecution on the weapons charge. If he hadn’t gotten into trouble. .
The deal was derided as a “sweet deal” by Republicans, including former President Donald Trump. He faces his own criminal cases, including charges that he conspired to revoke the results of the 2020 elections.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, credited the new charges Thursday to two IRS investigators who testified before Congress that the Justice Department had mishandled and “slowly moved forward.” “the investigation into the president’s son. . Justice officials have denied those accusations.
The two IRS employees, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, said the indictment was “a complete vindication of our thorough investigation.”
The new charges against Hunter Biden include filing a false return and felony tax evasion, as well as misdemeanor failure to file and failure to pay.
The defense has signaled it plans to fight the new charges, likely relying at least in part on the immunity provisions of the original plea agreement. Defense attorneys have argued they remain in effect since that part of the agreement was signed by a prosecutor before the deal was thrown out.
Prosecutors disagree, pointing out that the documents were not signed by a judge and are invalid.
Lowell said he also plans to push to have the gun charges dismissed next week, calling them “unconstitutional and unprecedented.”
THE GUN CASE
Hunter Biden is accused of violating measures against drug users who own guns when he bought and kept a handgun for about 11 days in 2018. He has pleaded not guilty.
Follow more AP coverage on the president’s son.
The three federal gun charges filed in Delaware allege that Hunter Biden had lied about his drug use to buy a gun he kept for 11 days in 2018. Federal law prohibits gun ownership by “habitual drug users,” although the measure is rarely considered a stand-alone charge and has been challenged by a federal appeals court.
Hunter Biden’s long struggle with substance abuse worsened after the death of his brother Beau Biden in 2015, according to court documents and his memoir “Beautiful Things,” which ends with his detox in 2019.
However, his gross income amounted to about $7 million between 2016 and 2020, prosecutors said, pointing to his board roles at Ukrainian energy company Burisma and a Chinese private equity fund, as well as his position at a Law firm.
Hunter finally filed his taxes in 2020, while facing a child support case in Arkansas, and the back taxes were paid by a “third party,” prosecutors said in court documents.