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Maryland sheriff and firearms dealer indicted in illegal machine gun acquisition scheme, DOJ says


By Sara Smart, CNN

A sheriff and a local firearms dealer in Frederick County, Maryland, have been indicted on federal charges for their roles in a scheme to illegally acquire machine guns so they could be rented out for profit, federal prosecutors announced.

A federal grand jury indicted Frederick County Sheriff Charles Austin Jenkins, 66, and Robert Justin Krop, 36, on charges of conspiracy and false statements to acquire machine guns, the US Department of Justice said in a Wednesday news release.

Krop, who owns firearms-related businesses in the county, is also charged with illegal possession of seven machine guns, the agency said.

Krop and his businesses are licensed to possess and deal machine guns under special circumstances, which include using the guns as demonstration samples for potential law enforcement buyers, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that from August 2015 to May 2022 Jenkins and Krop conspired to unlawfully purchase machine guns by falsifying documents on the sheriff’s office letterhead which requested machine guns for evaluation and demonstration for the office.

Instead of using the guns for demonstrations, however, the pair intended for them to be rented to Krop’s customers to benefit his business, according to the indictment.

Krop drafted the documents for Jenkins to sign, and then they submitted the false paperwork to licensed dealers, importers and manufacturers, as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, saying the guns were for demonstration to law enforcement, the indictment alleges.

“The indictment further alleges that Krop’s business offered political support to Jenkins in recognition of his support for the business,” the DOJ said in its release. Jenkins, who has been sheriff since 2006, was reelected in 2022, it said.

CNN has reached out to Krop for comment.

Jenkins remains in his position as sheriff, Todd Wivell, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said in a news conference Wednesday.

Wivell read a statement on behalf of Jenkins that read in part, “I have been in constant communication with the DOJ and the ATF for over a year and have been 100% cooperative throughout the course of this investigation.”

A court date has yet to be set for the two and the sheriff’s office has not disclosed Jenkins’ attorney.

Frederick County is about 50 miles west of Baltimore, Maryland.

If convicted, the two face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. Krop would also face a maximum of 10 years in prison for unlawfully possessing machine guns.

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