Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to nine federal tax charges at arraignment at LA court

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Special Counsel David Weiss indicted Hunter Biden last month on three felonies and six misdemeanors that could land him with up to 17 years prison if convicted
  • The charges stem from alleged scheme to skip paying $1.4M owed to IRS 

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to nine tax charges at his arraignment hearing at a Los Angeles federal court. 

The First Son arrived at the federal First Street Courthouse in downtown LA on Thursday afternoon in a Secret Service convoy accompanied by his defense attorney Abbe Lowell.

The 53-year-old spoke to confirm his name and that he understood the charges against him, and to give his not guilty plea to all nine tax charges. 

He appeared in a navy blue suit, flanked by his Winston and Strawn lawyers Abbe Lowell and Angela Machala.

While Lowell scowled at the roughly 40 reporters in the Los Angeles federal courtroom, Hunter appeared a little nervous waiting for the judge to appear – at times smoothing his hair back and wiping sweat from his upper lip.

Hunter Biden (pictured during his surprise appearance at House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday) was arraigned on tax-related charges in LA on Thursday

Members of the media gather outside a federal court in downtown Los Angeles ahead of Hunter's arraignment

Members of the media gather outside a federal court in downtown Los Angeles ahead of Hunter’s arraignment 

At one point he looked across the courtroom, sizing up prosecutors Leo Wise and Derek Hines, then adjusted his collar and took a deep breath. 

Just months earlier the Delaware prosecutors and Hunter’s legal team had agreed a ‘sweetheart’ plea deal that would let him off with no jail time.

But the feeling was frosty in the Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday, with Hunter and Lowell greeting and shaking hands with court staff but not even acknowledging Wise and Hines.

Judge Mark Scarsi scheduled the next hearing for March 27, and the beginning of his trial for June 20. 

He also ordered Hunter to comply with restrictions already set in his Delaware gun crime case, including no alcohol or drugs, including marijuana, no ownership of guns or other weapons, and to submit to any required drug tests. 

Hunter’s ‘sugar brother’ attorney Kevin Morris – who has photographed smoking from a bong at his Pacific Palisades home last year – was notably absent at the hearing. 

Morris was referred to as an unnamed ‘friend’ in the tax crimes indictment against Hunter filed on December 7, and IRS whistleblowers say that he lent Hunter $4.9million to pay off his tax debts and fund his lifestyle. 

Judge Scarsi told the courtroom he wanted short filings from both sides no more than 20 pages, and that he wanted to get the trial done with quickly. 

‘The more we can streamline things the better,’ he said. 

The date of June 20 trial raises the prospect of the president’s son getting sentenced to prison time ahead of the November presidential election, if found guilty. 

Lowell told the judge that he would be arguing that Congress unduly interfered in the case, and that he would be asking for prosecutors communications with lawmakers among other discovery documents.

Hunter smiled and cracked a couple of jokes with his attorney Machala while waiting for the judge to arrive, and the two attorneys pored over documents including printed emails and what appeared to be a copy of the indictment.

Hunter Biden was accompanied by his attorney Kevin Morris (left) as he stormed out of a House Oversight Committee hearing

Morris authored a book in 2014 called 'White Man's Problem'

Hunter Biden was accompanied by his ‘sugar brother’ attorney Kevin Morris (pictured) as he stormed out of a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday, but was not present at his arraignment 

The Winston and Strawn lawyers were drinking premium brand Fiji Water, while Wise and Hines both had bottles of Crystal Geyser.

While Wise stood and told the judge that they had made all the necessary disclosures of discovery documents to Hunter’s team, the president’s son folded his arms and glared at the prosecutor. 

Lowell told the judge: ‘On each of the nine counts Mr. Biden will plead not guilty.’ 

Hunter and his team left the downtown federal courthouse from the back in two black SUVs, avoiding the dozens of news cameras assembled on the street at the front entrance. 

It was a far less dramatic exit than his surprise appearance this week at a public House Oversight Committee hearing in Washington DC, where a contempt charge against him was discussed for his failure to attend an interview with lawmakers. 

Special Counsel David Weiss indicted Hunter last month on three felonies and six misdemeanors, accusing the president’s son of deliberately evading tax, falsifying his returns, and failing to pay $1.4million on time – instead spending the money on a ‘lavish lifestyle’. 

The charges span the 2016 through 2019 tax years, and could land him with up to 17 years prison. 

Judge Mark Scarsi, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, has been assigned the case which alleges Hunter was involved in a four-year $1.4million tax evasion scheme.

The case comes after the implosion of a ‘sweetheart’ plea deal involving tax and gun counts that would have spared him jail time.

Instead, Hunter Biden is now also charged with federal firearms charges in Delaware alleging he broke laws against drug users having guns in 2018.

Federal police officers keep watch with a dog in front of the federal courthouse where Hunter Biden is appearing on tax charges on Thursday

Federal police officers keep watch with a dog in front of the federal courthouse where Hunter Biden is appearing on tax charges on Thursday

News crews wait in front of a federal courthouse for the arrival of the president's son

News crews wait in front of a federal courthouse for the arrival of the president’s son 

Lowell has said that prosecutors bowed to political pressure in bringing the case and Hunter Biden was targeted because of his father’s political position.

The indictment, filed December 7, states that despite receiving millions in personal income and financial support from a friend, Hunter ‘spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes’.


The Department of Justice filed nine new criminal charges against President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, in December. 

They include:

  • Two felony charges for filing a false return in 2018, both for Hunter Biden personally and for his company Owasco 
  • One felony charge for tax evasion in 2018
  • Four failure to pay charges for tax years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Two charges for failure to file for 2017 and 2018 


‘The Defendant spent approximately $1million in 2016, $1.4million in 2017, $1.8million in 2018, and $600,000 in 2019,’ the indictment alleges.

Hunter made more than $7 million in gross income between 2016 and 2020, according to the documents.

Prosecutors say he also received around $1.2million ‘in financial support to fund his extravagant lifestyle’ in 2020 alone, from his ‘sugar brother’ Hollywood lawyer Kevin Morris.

The documents argue that none of this financial assistance was used to pay ‘any of his federal individual income tax liabilities for 2016-2019.’

Hunter’s lawyers say that he has now paid all of his delinquent tax bills.

The charges were filed after two IRS whistleblowers who ran a four-year probe into Hunter came forward to Congress claiming their investigation had been slow-rolled and obstructed by Justice Department officials.

Senior agents Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler shared bombshell documents with the House Ways and Means Committee evidencing many of the charges in Weiss’ indictment.

The First Son’s California prosecution will be led by Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) Leo Wise, supported by fellow prosecutor Derek Hines.

The two were drafted into Weiss’ team at a late stage in the now five-year probe.

Wise joined Weiss’ Delaware office after being demoted from Chief of the Public Corruption and Fraud Unit at the Maryland US Attorney’s Office to a mere line prosecutor in the same unit in March last year, the Baltimore Sun reported.

And revealed in July that Hines has a potential conflict, having worked from 2013 to 2015 as ‘Special Counsel’ to one of Hunter’s business partners, ex-FBI director Louis Freeh.

Weiss’s longtime deputy who led the investigation in his Delaware office, Lesley Wolf, was nowhere to be seen on the Special Counsel’s court filings against Hunter, and has now left her government job.

Hunter’s California charges include several unnamed associates, revealed by last month to have close links to President Biden.

Between 2016 and 2020 Hunter allegedly spent more than $683,000 on 'various women' and almost $400,000 on 'clothing and accessories'

Between 2016 and 2020 Hunter allegedly spent more than $683,000 on ‘various women’ and almost $400,000 on ‘clothing and accessories’

The associates in the indictment include President Joe Biden’s brother, tax advisor, two of his major donors, and a family friend whose wife worked for the First Lady.

Weiss is also prosecuting Hunter in Delaware over alleged felony gun crimes, for purchasing a pistol in Wilmington after he admitted in his memoir to being an illegal drug user at the time. 

The charges could fetch him up to 25 years and a $250,000 fine – though convicts rarely receive such a heavy sentence for those offenses alone.

The First Son is also facing a potential prosecution for contempt of congress, after blowing off a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee to be grilled by lawmakers and their staff on his shady overseas business deals and Joe Biden’s potential involvement.

His lawyers instead offered to have him appear at a public hearing, which Republicans rejected.

On Wednesday Hunter made a controversial appearance at a public House Oversight hearing on his potential contempt charge, flanked by Lowell and Morris.

Prosecutors have also hinted at a potential prosecution for illegal foreign lobbying.

During a July 2023 hearing in Delaware over Hunter’s now-nixed plea deal, prosecutor Leo Wise told Judge Maryellen Noreika that they were considering further charges against Hunter for alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

These could stem from Hunter’s dealings with the allegedly corrupt Ukrainian gas firm Burisma and Chinese oil giant CEFC, which earned him millions of dollars.


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