A Virginia sheriff is facing federal fraud and conspiracy charges as the US Justice Department claims he handed out deputy sheriff badges in exchange for money to help fund his reelection campaign, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Howard Jenkins, 51, and three other Virginia men have been charged with a conspiracy to exchange bribes for law enforcement badges and credentials, the US attorney’s office for the Western District of Virginia said in a statement.
The indictment claims that from at least April 2019, Jenkins accepted cash bribes and bribes in the form of campaign contributions totaling at least $72,500 from Rick Tariq Rahim, 55, of Great Falls, Fredric Gumbinner, 64, of Fairfax, James Metcalf, 60, of Manassas, and at least five others, including two FBI undercover agents.
In return, Jenkins appointed each of those who paid bribes as auxiliary deputy sheriffs, a sworn law enforcement position, and issued them Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office badges and identification cards.
The indictment said Jenkins told, or caused others to tell, those who paid bribes that the law enforcement credentials authorized them to carry concealed firearms in all 50 states without obtaining a permit.
Jenkins is also accused of assisting Rahim in gaining approval for a petition to restore his firearms rights filed in Culpeper County Circuit Court that falsely stated Rahim resided in the county, the indictment said, in exchange for bribes.
US Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh said Jenkins “not only violated federal law but also violated the faith and trust placed in him by the citizens of Culpeper County by accepting cash bribes in exchange for auxiliary deputy badges and other benefits.”
“Our elected officials are expected to uphold the rule of law, not abuse their power for their own personal, financial gain,” he added.
Jenkins is charged with one count of conspiracy, four counts of honest-services mail and wire fraud, and eight counts of federal programs bribery. Rahim is charged with one count of conspiracy, three counts of honest-services mail and wire fraud, and three counts of federal programs bribery. Gumbinner and Metcalf are charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of honest-services wire fraud, and two counts of federal programs bribery.
CNN has reached out to the defense attorneys for those charged. An attorney for James Metcalf, Timothy D. Belevetz, told CNN Thursday he had no comment to make on the charges. CNN contacted Jenkins for comment by email and did not receive an immediate response.
Jenkins was elected sheriff of Culpeper County in 2011 and took office in January 2012. He was reelected in 2015 and 2019.
The indictment claims “it was a purpose of the conspiracy for Jenkins to unlawfully benefit and enrich himself and others and to fund his re-election campaigns through bribery.”
Special Agent in Charge Stanley Meador of the FBI’s Richmond Division said, “With today’s announcement, FBI Richmond re-enforces our commitment – to the community – of ensuring abuses of public trust will not be tolerated and those responsible will be held accountable.”
On its website, the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office calls Jenkins “a recognized thought leader in the areas of Second Amendment rights, secure communities, constitutional government, and law enforcement.”
“He speaks at local, state, and national conferences on these issues. He has numerous appearances on Fox News, local network affiliates of the major networks, international media, and digital media,” the website states.
Source : CNN