Culpeper County

FBI Seizes Culpeper Sheriff Campaign Cash

News4 I-Team questions volunteer deputy program

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A long-time lawman is out thousands in campaign cash amidst signs of a larger investigation in his Virginia county.

The News4 I-Team learned the FBI seized $10,000 from the campaign account of Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins in January. According to campaign filings at the time, it was nearly the entire balance.

The FBI won’t comment, but the seizure was posted in a federal notice April 5.

It came just two weeks after sources with knowledge of the investigation told the I-Team a number of Culpeper County employees have been subpoenaed to testify to a federal grand jury. It is unclear if the seizure and grand jury investigation are related.

The FBI is not commenting on either the seizure or the subpoenas, and despite numerous requests to both Jenkins and his D.C. lawyer, neither are they.

Jenkins is no stranger to controversy.

In late 2019, as the Virginia General Assembly was considering changes to the commonwealth’s gun laws, Jenkins said several times he would deputize thousands of so-called auxiliary deputies.

Auxiliaries are volunteers who typically work a few hours a month to help support law enforcement.

Jenkins’ plan, however, was to deputize the volunteers, allowing them to maintain the gun rights the General Assembly may have curtailed.

Those gun law changes did not pass in Richmond that session, and Jenkins’ plan to deputize “thousands” of auxiliaries didn’t come to pass, but today there are dozens of them in a department with roughly 130 full-time deputies.

Dozens of Volunteers Deputized

In searches of court records, the I-Team found 46 auxiliary deputies appointed by Jenkins and sworn in by a circuit court judge. That is more than double the number of auxiliary deputies authorized by a Culpeper County ordinance “not to exceed fifteen (15) percent of the paid force.”

The number of deputies is far from the only question the I-Team has about the program.

According to the sheriff’s own general order, auxiliary deputies are supposed to be trained. According to the results of a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request, the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services only has training records for three of the 46 auxiliaries.

It is unclear if that is a violation of state law or rules, but it would be a violation of the sheriff’s own general order, which lists specific training to auxiliary or reserve deputies.

Professor Adam Dobrin, an expert on volunteer policing, told the I-Team, "They (auxiliary deputies) should be only doing what they're qualified to do.”

Dobrin, who teaches courses in law enforcement at Florida Atlantic University, is a reserve officer himself in Florida.

“The public should have a certainty that this is someone who has had the training commensurate with their authority and responsibility," he said.

A Culpeper sheriff’s general order explains auxiliary deputies will get the same equipment as full-time deputies. The sheriff’s office told the I-Team it could only find records of five auxiliary deputies getting any equipment at all. There are no records of any firearms issued to auxiliary deputies, despite the general order stating the equipment is the same whether deputies are full time or auxiliary.

The general order is clear that each auxiliary deputy is to work 16 hours a month. The sheriff’s office could not provide a single time sheet proving any of the auxiliary deputies had worked even a single hour.

‘Proper Screening Must Be Done’

A Culpeper County ordinance states auxiliaries should be of “good character.” The sheriff’s general order states auxiliaries will go through the same hiring process as full-time deputies, which involves an “extensive background check,” including searches for convictions of both felonies and “crimes of moral turpitude.”

Jenkins didn’t shy away from the background check requirement. In 2019, he told county supervisors at a public meeting, “Proper screening must be done.”

Given that, it is unclear how Rick Rahim, a Fairfax County business owner, passed his.

Rahim currently runs a financial advice service, but in 1992, he pleaded guilty to three felony counts of obtaining property under false pretenses in Fairfax County and was sentenced to serve six months.

In 1997, Federal Trade Commission documents posted online show the agency settled with Rahim over allegations he made deceptive claims about his credit repair company.

In 2009, Rahim pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of illegal assembly after Fairfax police busted an allegedly illegal poker game at his home.

Court records show Rahim agreed to forfeit $328,000.

The I-Team’s questions to Jenkins about Rahim’s history went unanswered. Rahim referred the I-Team back to the sheriff, told the I-Team to stay off his property, and wrote in a text message, "My hands are tied. I'm very sorry. Cannot talk. Yet."

In 2020, court records obtained by the I-Team show Rahim, who's long called Fairfax County home, went to Culpeper County to file a petition to get his right to own a gun restored, which he lost in that earlier felony conviction.

According to a court transcript the commonwealth’s attorney inquired about where Rahim lived. Residency, the commonwealth’s attorney explained, is one of the requirements for gun right restoration. According to the transcript, Rahim swore under oath he lived in Culpeper. In the same transcript, his “dwelling place” is listed as the very same street as the sheriff's brother – the same street where the sheriff's office holds its annual Halloween charity event.

​Even more curious are court documents from a pending lawsuit filed when Rahim allegedly stopped paying for two Lamborghinis. A U.S. Marshals Service form showing addresses where those cars might be located for seizure includes one house the I-Team found is owned by the sheriff himself. Rahim and the sheriff did not answer questions about that.

‘It's Greatly Concerning’

A second Culpeper County auxiliary deputy, John Guandolo, caught the I-Team’s attention as well. Caleb Kieffer of the Southern Poverty Law Center calls Guandolo’s participation in the auxiliary program “greatly concerning.”

Guandolo was once an FBI agent. He’s now a law enforcement trainer who lives in Dallas and touts being a Culpeper auxiliary deputy on his company biography.

The SPLC tracked Guandolo and his “Understanding the Threat” training program for years, saying it uses anti-Muslim rhetoric and conspiracy theories.

“We view him as one of the leading anti-Muslim figures in this country,” Kieffer said. “We designate his organization as a hate group.”

He went on to say the auxiliary badge helps “legitimize” Guandolo and his work.

Neither Guandolo nor Jenkins answered any of the I-Team's questions about his service. 

Calls to several county supervisors about the I-Team’s questions didn’t yield any answers either.

Dobrin, the volunteer policing expert, summed up his concerns reminding the I-Team the only people the sheriff really answers to are the people of Culpeper.

"The sheriff is second in command,” Dobrin said. “The voting public is the top of that chart. And so, in an elected official like a sheriff, the answer is that they answer to the public."

In 2017, the I-Team investigated allegations of bullying and high turnover inside the sheriff’s office. Jenkins wouldn’t give an interview but said the complaints were from disgruntled ex-employees and politically motivated.

In 2019, the I-Team examined questions about whether an annual Halloween event used to raise money for a charity inside the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office violated federal tax rules by helping support the sheriff’s reelection campaign. The director of the charity said nothing was inappropriate.

Reported by Ted Oberg, produced by Rick Yarborough, shot by Jeff Piper and Steve Jones, and edited by Steve Jones.

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