Judge rejects deal in Hunter Biden case as first son pleads not guilty

Conservatives urged Judge Maryellen Noreika to reject the deal.

Published: July 26, 2023 11:44am

Updated: July 26, 2023 4:09pm

Hunter Biden's plea deal with the Justice Department on two misdemeanor tax charges fell apart Wednesday after the federal judge overseeing the case said she had "concerns" about the constitutionality of a pre-trial diversion agreement that would allow him to avoid prison on a felony firearms possession charge.

Judge Maryellen Noreika did not accept the plea deal and Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty at the end of the hearing. Noreika asked both sides to file briefs explaining the legal structuring of the plea deal.

Additionally, prosecutors acknowledged in the Delaware federal court that Biden is still the subject of an active investigation, according to Fox News.

Biden had been expected to plea guilty to two misdemeanor tax crimes as part of a plea deal with the Justice Department that would have allowed the first son to avoid jail time with the approval of Noreika, a Trump appointee who has donated to both political parties.

Biden was also charged with felony possession of a firearm while being addicted to illegal drugs, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. He had agreed to enter into a pre-trial diversion program, which allows defendants to avoid convictions or prison time.

When Judge Maryellen Noreika asked prosecutors whether the deal would include a possible Foreign Agents Registration Act charge, prosecutors said it would not.

Conservatives have been urging the court to reject the agreement amid growing evidence of government interference in the probe.

The Justice Department had planned on recommending two years of probation for Hunter Biden as part of the negotiated plea deal, according to CNN. Conditions on Biden's release would have required him to abstain from drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs and he could be randomly drug tested by court officials.

While congressional Republicans have been sounding the alarm about alleged government interference in the probe in favor of the Biden family, Noreika agreed with prosecutors and Hunter Biden's attorneys that she cannot order a redo of the five-year investigation if she found problems with it.

The Justice Department said Biden earned more than $1.5 million annually in 2017 and 2018, and he did not pay income tax either year despite owing more than $100,000 in taxes both years.

The maximum penalty for each tax charge is 12 months in prison.

"Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties," prosecutors said when announcing the plea deal last month.

Wednesday would have been the first time in U.S. history that the son of a sitting president pleaded guilty to a crime in federal court.

The proceedings Wednesday come one day after Judge Noreika threatened Hunter Biden's legal team with sanctions for making what she called "misrepresentations" after they allegedly tried to trick the court into not including an amicus brief in the case from the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee.

Madeleine Hubbard is an international correspondent for Just the News. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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