A federal judge earlier this year authorized an FBI wiretap of a phone belonging to Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, according to a court document.
U.S. District Judge Norman Moon on Dec. 13, 2022, authorized the interception of wire and electronic communications for a phone number Jenkins has long used. The wiretap was authorized from Dec. 14, 2022, through Jan. 13, 2023, according to the document filed through U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia Charlottesville Division.
The document was signed by FBI Special Agent Andrew Clouser.
According to the document, it was sent to individuals whose wire or electronic communications with the sheriff were intercepted during the one-month period of the wiretap.
Two weeks after the conclusion of the wiretap, the Department of Justice filed a public notice that the FBI seized $10,000 from Jenkins’ campaign account.
The money, held in the name of Sheriff Scott Howard Jenkins for Sheriff at Blue Ridge Bank in Culpeper, was subject to civil forfeiture on Jan. 31.
The FBI on Wednesday would not confirm or comment on the wiretap or any investigation involving Jenkins, and the sheriff has not responded to requests for comment.
Judge Moon, earlier this year, was presiding over a separate, excessive force and wrongful death civil rights action filed against Jenkins and the sheriff’s office last November. The case is related to the Thanksgiving Day 2022 fatal shooting of 62-year-old Ellis Frye, at his home in Culpeper.
The Frye case was transferred March 22 from Moon to the docket of U.S. District Judge Robert Ballou. A trial in that case was recently set for July 8–12, 2024, in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville.
According to fbi.gov, wiretapping is one of the FBI’s most sensitive techniques and is strictly controlled by federal statutes. It is used infrequently and only to combat terrorism and serious crimes, according to the site.
Federal law contains protocol requiring all law enforcement officers to establish probable cause that the wiretaps may provide evidence of a felony violation of federal law, according to the FBI.
After determining if a sufficient showing of probable cause has been made, federal judges approve or deny wiretaps. The approving judge then must continue to monitor how the wiretap is being conducted, according to the FBI.
Jenkins plans to seek his fourth term as sheriff in November. Culpeper Deputy Police Chief Tim Chilton announced he will also run for the position, as did Joe Watson, a former captain at the Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office.