The federal trial of indicted Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins on false statement and gun charges won’t occur for more than another year, a judge decided this week.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher said in a letter to attorneys for Jenkins and his co-defendant, gun shop owner Robert Krop, that Krop will be tried first, with a eight days of proceedings scheduled to begin Dec. 9. Jenkins’ seven-day trial is scheduled to start Jan. 27, according to Gallagher’s order.

Jenkins, 67, who briefly took a leave of absence following the indictment, continues to serve his fifth term as sheriff.

Andrea Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is one of Jenkins’ attorneys, said he was “devastated” by the timetable. His attorneys have been aggressively contesting the case in court filings.

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“It’s a long time to wait to clear your name,” she said.

The grand jury indictment was handed up in April 2023. Federal prosecutors say Jenkins used his position to improperly help Krop acquire machine guns to rent to the public, by signing letters saying that the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office wanted to see a demonstration of the guns, which was false.

The Machine Gun Nest made over $100,000 in profits from machine gun rentals in 2018 and 2019, the indictment says.

Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors and Jenkins’ attorneys wanted Krop to be tried first, saying the case against him was stronger. Prosecutors noted there was a “distinct possibility” that they might drop charges against Jenkins if Krop were to be acquitted.

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Krop’s attorney, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox, wrote that it would be a “manifest injustice” if Krop is tried before Jenkins, arguing that Jenkins is the “principal” in the alleged crimes.

“On information and belief, each and every one of those were all signed by the Sheriff — not by Mr. Krop,” Cox wrote. Cox says Krop also did nothing wrong.

Jenkins’ attorneys say he received nothing of value by signing the letters, and had no intent to commit a violation of the law. They say he sought to meet with federal prosecutors and was rebuffed.

“In this case, the defendant admits and owns that he was negligent. Negligence is not criminal culpability,” they wrote in one filing.

Last month, Gallagher denied a motion to dismiss the indictment as well as a request by the defense to view grand jury minutes. She did, however, express concern about two portions of the indictment, which prosecutors then dismissed.

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When Jenkins, a Republican, reversed his decision to take a leave of absence, county leaders criticized him. County Executive Jessica Fitzwater, a Democrat, said in a statement that she was “disappointed that he has gone back on his word” while County Council Vice President Kavonté Duckett, also a Democrat, said Jenkins “made a mockery of the process.”

In an interview with a local radio station last year, Jenkins called the case “my cancer. This is my disease. I’m fighting for my life.”

This story’s photo caption has been updated to clarify that Sheriff Chuck Jenkins, after taking a leave of absence, is again serving in his position.

Justin Fenton is an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Banner. He previously spent 17 years at the Baltimore Sun, covering the criminal justice system. His book, "We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption," was released by Random House in 2021 and became an HBO miniseries.

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