Maryland sheriff charged in scheme involving machine guns

A Maryland sheriff has been accused in a federal indictment of requesting machine guns for the sheriff’s office but sending the weapons instead to a gun dealer to loan out to customers for profit, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Frederick County Sheriff Charles Austin Jenkins worked with firearms-related business owner Robert Justin Krop to request the weapons for “evaluation and demonstration” to law enforcement — despite knowing there would be no such demonstration, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.

The weapons were instead “intended for rental to Krop’s customers,” the indictment argues. Krop allegedly drafted the requests for Jenkins to sign on letterhead from the Frederick County sheriff’s office.

“The indictment further alleges that Krop’s business offered political support to Jenkins in recognition of his support for the business,” the release said.

The sheriff faces charges of conspiracy and false statements to acquire the machine guns, and Krop further faces unlawful possession of a machine gun. The indictment alleges the scheme spanned more than six years, from August 2015 to May 2022.

If convicted, the pair face a five-year maximum sentence for the conspiracy and false statements, and Krop faces a 10-year maximum for the unlawful possession.

Jenkins has been Frederick County’s sheriff since 2006 and was reelected to the post in 2022.

A sheriff’s office spokesperson read a statement from Jenkins aloud at a press conference after the DOJ announced the indictment that said the sheriff had been in “constant communication” and “100 percent cooperative” with the DOJ and the ATF throughout the course of the investigation — but declined to give any further comment, citing advice from counsel.

Jenkins will continue serving as the acting sheriff “as this process plays out,” the statement continued. A spokesperson said that though the sheriff was cooperating with the investigation, an indictment was not expected.

Updated April 6 at 2:09 p.m.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.