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Maryland Sheriff Charged with Illegally Procuring Machine Guns from ATF

by Kevin W. Bliss

On April 5, 2023, the Sheriff of Maryland’s Frederick County was charged with using his office to order machine guns from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) that were supposed to be used for demonstration and evaluation – but which were later rented out for profit instead. Along with Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, 66, gun shop owner Robert Justin Krop, 36, was also charged with conspiracy and providing false statements to acquire machine guns.

Jenkins has been the county Sheriff for several terms. In 2013, he was lambasted when three of his off-duty deputies serving as movie theater security forcefully removed a 26-year-old man with Downs syndrome from a screening. The man collapsed during the altercation and later died. That incident followed on the heels of the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old by two deputies performing a raid. Jenkins was also named in a racial profiling lawsuit, and he is a vocal proponent of the controversial 287(g)-program, under which local authorities detain suspected undocumented aliens for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Krop, 36, owns the Machine Gun Nest, selling firearms to local residents as well as law enforcement. The indictment charges him with requesting Jenkins to submit the necessary paperwork to obtain machine guns from the ATF for evaluation by the Sheriff’s department. By law, the purchase, sale, transfer, or importation of any machine gun must be requested by an approved government agency. Thereafter, the process can be accomplished by a properly licensed gun shop certified to deal with law enforcement.

Prosecutors say the transactions became illegal because the guns were never intended for evaluation for Frederick County law enforcement usage. At least one weapon, the FN M249 SAW, is suitable only for combat use. In addition, rental receipts show Krop made over $100,000 by renting out the weapons between 2018 and 2019.

He and Sheriff Jenkins both remain free while awaiting trial. However, Jenkins was forced to surrender his weapon as a condition of his release. If convicted on charges of conspiracy, false statements in records maintained by a federal firearms licensee and false statements to federal law enforcement, they face up to five years in federal prison. Krop also faces up to 10 additional years for a charge of illegally possessing machine guns. 

Sources: Maryland Matters, Washington Post