UNITED STATES NEWS

Virginia sheriff, 3 businessmen, indicted on federal bribery charges

Jun 29, 2023, 9:36 AM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia sheriff has been indicted on federal public corruption charges for allegedly handing out auxiliary deputy sheriff’s appointments in exchange for cash bribes and large donations to his reelection campaign.

Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins is charged in a 16-count indictment, along with three businessmen who are accused of paying bribes to Jenkins. The indictment unsealed Thursday charges all four with conspiracy, wire fraud, and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

First elected sheriff in 2011, Jenkins is accused of soliciting and accepting bribes totaling at least $72,500 from the three indicted businessmen and at least five others, including two FBI undercover agents during his 2019 reelection campaign.

“Jenkins used the powers of his office to enrich himself and to secure funds for his re-election,” the indictment states. In exchange, Jenkins appointed his co-conspirators as auxiliary deputy sheriffs — volunteers who received a badge and a gun, and generally had the same law enforcement powers as paid deputy sheriffs.

The indictment also accuses Jenkins of pressuring a Circuit Court judge and employees in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to process and approve a petition by one of his alleged co-conspirators, northern Virginia businessman Rick Tariq Rahim, to restore his gun rights. The petition was granted in August 2020. Rahim was later sworn in as an auxiliary deputy sheriff and issued a badge, a gun and a sheriff’s office identification card. The indictment does not say why Rahim lost his gun rights.

Jenkins, Rahim and two other businessmen — Fredric Gumbinner and James Metcalf — were arrested early Thursday and made initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville on Thursday afternoon. All four were released on personal recognizance.

Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately respond to phone messages and emails seeking comment. Jenkins did not immediately respond to an email sent to his office.

“Scott 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,” U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh said in a statement.

In December 2019, Jenkins made headlines when he vowed to deputize county residents if the then-newly elected Democratic majority in the state legislature passed what he called “further unnecessary gun restrictions.”

“I plan to properly screen and deputize thousands of our law-abiding citizens to protect their constitutional right to own firearms,” Jenkins wrote on Facebook at the time.

The county of more than 50,000 people is southwest of northern Virginia’s heavily populated suburbs.

The indictment says the bribery scheme began in April 2019, when Jenkins was running for reelection in a contested race. In June 2019, he allegedly texted a businessman identified only as “Individual 1″ and said he was “looking to build the war chest and get donations in soon.” The following month, Jenkins texted the businessman again, saying, “Looks like my opponent is hooking up with Democrats to run an attack campaign so we’re starting to spend. Let me know if you have any luck with anyone.”

During a meeting on July 31, 2019, Jenkins, Individual 1 and Rahim met and discussed Rahim’s desire to get his gun rights restored and become an auxiliary deputy sheriff, the indictment states. About five weeks later, $6,000 in cash was deposited into a joint checking account held by Jenkins and his spouse, the indictment states.

Ten days later, Rahim’s company, BV Management LLC, wrote a check for $17,500 payable to Jenkins with a memo line stating “Loan Proceeds.” The same day, an unnamed associate of Rahim’s wrote a check for $17,500 payable to Jenkins with a memo line referencing “loan.” The indictment says Jenkins repaid the “loan” to Rahim’s associate on Jan. 5, 2022, but as of January 2023, he had not repaid the “loan” to Rahim.

In campaign finance reports filed with the Virginia Department of Elections, Jenkins did not report receiving any contributions from Rahim or any business associated with him, the indictment says.

The indictment alleges Jenkins covered up the scheme by encouraging the payment of bribes in cash or indirectly through others, adding he also disguised bribe payments as money used for firearms purchases.

According to the indictment, Rahim and Gumbinner, a business associate of Rahim’s, agreed Rahim would facilitate getting Gumbinner sworn in as an auxiliary deputy sheriff in exchange for a $20,000 payment to Jenkins. It said Gumbinner paid $20,000 to one of Rahim’s businesses, Food Truck Company LLC. Five months later, Jenkins appointed Gumbinner as an auxiliary deputy sheriff.

In August 2022, Individual 1 contacted Metcalf and told him that he could become an auxiliary deputy sheriff in exchange for a $5,000 contribution to the sheriff’s reelection campaign, the indictment states. Metcalf agreed, and Jenkins signed an order appointing him to the post. The next day, Metcalf handed Jenkins an envelope containing a $5,000 check from his company, Yona Systems Group, made payable to a campaign committee to Jenkins, the indictment says.

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Virginia sheriff, 3 businessmen, indicted on federal bribery charges