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Culpeper Sheriff, businessmen, arrested on federal bribery charges

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Posted at 2:36 PM, Jun 29, 2023

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 men with conspiracy, wire fraud, and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Jenkins, who was first elected as sheriff in 2011, 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 under an order approved by Jenkins that became effective in January 2020.

The indictment also accused Jenkins of pressuring and advising other public officials to process and approve a petition by one of his co-conspirators, northern Virginia businessman Rick Tariq Rahim, to restore his right to possess a gun. The indictment does not say why Rahim lost his gun rights.

Jenkins, Rahim, and two other businessmen — Fredric Gumbinner and James Metcalf — were all arrested early Thursday and were scheduled to make their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville on Thursday afternoon.

They were in federal custody and could not immediately be reached for comment on the indictment.

It could not immediately be determined whether they have retained attorneys to represent them.

“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. “Our elected officials are expected to uphold the rule of law, not abuse their power for their own personal, financial gain.”

In December 2019, Jenkins made headlines in Virginia 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.

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