A Virginia sheriff faces federal fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly giving deputy sheriff badges in exchange for money to fund his re-election campaign, according to CNN.
Sheriff Scott Howard Jenkins of Culpeper County, Virginia, was named in a 16-count indictment along with three other businessmen who were accused of paying bribes to the sheriff.
The indictment reportedly claimed that since at least April 2019, Jenkins had been accepting cash and bribes from former campaign contributors named Rick Rahim, Fredric Gumbinner, and James Metcalf. Five others also reportedly paid bribes, including two undercover FBI agents.
The contributions totaled $72,500.
Jenkins allegedly told or had others tell those who paid the bribes that they would be able to carry concealed firearms anywhere in the United States with their new badges.
In December 2019, the 51-year-old sheriff said that if the Democratic-controlled legislature in his state passed restrictive gun control laws, he might deputize thousands of citizens to allow them to be exempt from the laws.
“If necessary, I plan to properly screen and deputize thousands of our law-abiding citizens to protect their constitutional right to own firearms,” Jenkins said.
U.S. 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.
The official charges filed against Jenkins were one count of conspiracy, four counts of honest-services mail and wire fraud, and eight counts of federal programs bribery.
Each crime, if convicted, carries a maximum prison sentence between five and 20 years.
An attorney for Metcalf, one of the men accused of paying bribes, told CNN he had no comment on the charges his client faces. Those charges included one count of conspiracy, one count of honest-services wire fraud, and two counts of federal programs bribery.
According to the city website, Howard has been the Culpeper County sheriff since 2012.
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