Hunter Biden is set to make his first court appearance in Delaware where he is expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges Wednesday morning stemming from the years-long federal investigation into his tax affairs.
President Biden’s son is expected to appear in front of Judge Maryellen Noreika at 10:00 a.m.
Hunter Biden, 53, has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay federal income tax.
“Despite owing in excess of $100,000 in federal income taxes each year, he did not pay the income tax due for either year,” the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware David C. Weiss’ office said upon announcing the charges last month. “According to the firearm Information, from on or about October 12, 2018 through October 23, 2018, Hunter Biden possessed a firearm despite knowing he was an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance.”
Weiss’ office said if convicted, Hunter Biden faces a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison on each of the tax charges – a total of two years. There is a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the firearm charge for which he agreed to a pretrial diversion program.
Such programs according to the DOJ website, “divert certain offenders from traditional criminal justice processing into alternative systems of supervision and service” such as mental health or substance abuse treatment. Those who successfully complete diversion programs, the DOJ says, can see “declination of charges, dismissal or reduction of charges, or a more favorable recommendation at sentencing.”
“A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors,” Weiss’ office said.
“The investigation is ongoing,” the office said in a statement last month.
Hunter Biden will also enter into a pretrial diversion agreement regarding a separate felony charge of possession of a firearm by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.
The plea deal, which has faced ire from Republicans and opponents of the president, is likely to keep Hunter Biden out of jail.
Hunter Biden’s first court appearance comes after highly-anticipated public testimony from two IRS whistleblowers – Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler – who were part of the IRS’ investigative team on the Hunter investigation. They alleged the investigation and prosecutorial decisions were influenced by politics. The Justice Department has denied the allegations.
The appearance also comes a day after Judge Noreika has threatened Hunter Biden’s legal team with sanctions over allegations about lying to the clerk’s office. His counsel is accused of avoiding proper court procedure to allegedly get information about IRS whistleblowers removed from the docket.
Specifically, a lawyer from Hunter’s legal team is accused of misrepresenting who she was when asking to remove amicus materials from the docket. She allegedly called to ask the clerk to seal the information instead of making a formal request to the court.
Noreika gave Biden’s legal team until 9 p.m. on Tuesday to explain their side.
Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation since 2018. That investigation into his “tax affairs” began amid the discovery of suspicious activity reports (SARs) regarding funds from “China and other foreign nations.” IRS whistleblowers said the investigation began as an “offshoot” from an existing probe into a foreign pornography platform.
Fox News first reported in 2020 that the FBI had subpoenaed a laptop and hard drive purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden in connection with a money-laundering investigation in late 2019.
In December 2020, weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Biden publicly acknowledged he was under investigation related to his taxes. At the time, Biden said he took the matter “very seriously” and was “confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisors.”
The firearms charge stemmed from allegations that Hunter Biden lied during a gun purchase in 2018.
Fox News first reported in 2021 that police had responded to an incident in 2018, when a gun owned by Hunter Biden was thrown into a trash can outside a market in Delaware.
A firearm transaction report reviewed by Fox News indicated that Hunter Biden purchased a gun earlier that month.
On the firearm transaction report, Hunter Biden answered in the negative when asked if he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”
Hunter Biden was discharged from the Navy in 2014 after testing positive for cocaine.
When asked for comment after the charges were announced, the White House released a statement saying: “The President and First Lady love their son and support him as he continues to rebuild his life. We will have no further comment.”