June 3 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a former Treasury Department employee to six months in prison on charges she leaked sensitive financial reports about individuals connected to former President Donald Trump.
Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards pleaded guilty in January to one count of unlawfully disclosing suspicious activity reports related to Trump allies Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to a BuzzFeed reporter. She was arrested on the charges in 2018.
Federal prosecutors said the reporter published the information in 12 news articles.
"Today's sentence demonstrates that public servants who abuse the power entrusted to them will face steep consequences for their actions," U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said Thursday. "Maintaining the confidentiality of SARs, which are filed by banks and other financial institutions to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions, is critical to preserve the integrity of myriad investigations, and the financial privacy of individuals.
"Government employees entrusted with such highly sensitive information owe a duty to safeguard that information. The defendant abused that trust to serve her own purposes, broke the law, and now faces time in a federal prison for her actions."
Edwards worked for the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, also known as FinCEN at the time of the disclosure.
SARs are used to alert officials about potentially criminal financial transactions. FinCEN manages the Treasury Department's collection of SARs.
Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to bank fraud and money laundering charges stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Trump pardoned Manafort before leaving office.
Gates, Manafort's former business associate, pleaded guilty in February to lying to the FBI and defrauding the U.S. government, charges also stemming from the Mueller probe. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail.