A Maryland sheriff who took a leave of absence after he was indicted in April on federal charges over an alleged scheme to purchase machine guns illegally, announced Monday he was returning to his post.
Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins released an official memo to Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater and members of the county council that he would be returning to full duty status.
“Effective immediately, I am formally ending my administrative leave of absence that began on April 14, 2023, pursuant to my letter dated April 13, 2023,” Jenkins said. I am resuming full duties as head of the agency including management and oversight of day-to-day operations and all administrative and signatory responsibilities. Please direct all future correspondence to me.”
On April 5, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said Jenkins and Maryland firearms dealer Justin Krop conspired to purchase machine guns illegally between August 2015 and May 2022.
Krop had two licenses to possess and deal machine guns in certain circumstances, yet he allegedly possessed seven machine guns illegally.
The two men were accused of falsifying Frederick County Sheriff’s Office documents requesting machine guns for evaluation and demonstration, and according to the DOJ, both men falsified the documents knowing the guns would not be demonstrated or evaluated.
The documents were allegedly used to supply guns Krop’s customers could rent. The DOJ claims Krop drafted the documents and Jenkins signed them with the intent of leveraging political support from Krop and his customers.
Jenkins pleaded not guilty to all the charges when he was arraigned on April 12.
FOX 5 in Washington, D.C., reported that the sheriff’s lawyers filed a motion to sever his trial from Krop’s because Krop was seeking a trial before the end of summer.
The sheriff’s defense told prosecutors they did not have enough time to prepare for the case within that time frame.
Jenkin’s defense also feared his case would be prejudiced if the two were tried together because Jenkins “never received anything of value for his supposed role in this conspiracy – not money, rentals, use of the gun range, political contributions, or anything else of value.” They also said Jenkins was never found in possession of illegal firearms like Krop.
In his statement on Monday, Jenkins said he decided it was time to resume his full responsibilities and obligations as the Sheriff of Frederick County.
“The leave of absence was self-imposed and there is no reason not to return to full duty at this point,” he said. “My routine duties include the management of day-to-day operations, all administrative and management functions, and signatory obligations as the head of this agency.
“As a reminder, the Office of the Sheriff is the only law enforcement officer mentioned in our state constitution and is the chief law enforcement office of the county,” he added. “Maryland’s constitution calls for an elected Sheriff for each county. As it stands, I am still the elected Sheriff of Frederick County, and I am the only law enforcement officer directly accountable to the voting public.”
Jenkin said in a statement posted to the sheriff’s office Facebook page in April that he planned to take a leave of absence through the end of the judicial process.
“I have full confidence in the system and know that my innocence will prevail at the end of all of this and that I will be found not guilty,” he said at the time.
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy David Benjamin assumed Jenkins’ responsibilities while he was on leave.
Jenkins and Krop face up to 25 years in federal prison if convicted. In addition to the 25 years, Krop could face another 10 years for the unlawful possession of a machine gun.