The Culpeper County Sheriff is under scrutiny for flying first-class during extradition trips, but contends the trips did not cost taxpayers.
Sheriff Scott Jenkins said he’s flown first-class during his tenure as sheriff. However, he said, the county was reimbursed for the trips via inmates paying fines and court costs upon release.
State documents show reimbursement forms were submitted by the county’s finance department to the Virginia Departments of Accounts, which then electronically deposited the monies into Culpeper County’s General Fund.
In his six years as Culpeper County’s sheriff, Jenkins has taken five extradition trips, flying first-class three times.
On Thursday night, a Washington television station aired a segment that raised questions about the sheriff’s travel expenditures by flying first class from Washington to Las Vegas to extradite a fugitive in 2015.
The television station interviewed an unnamed source who said Jenkins is breaking state law by flying first-class.
Jenkins responded that the law was revised after the first-class trips occurred. During his most recent extradition flight, Jenkins said he flew coach.
Jenkins believes the story’s unnamed source is a former deputy.
Invoices provided to The Star-Exponent by the Sheriff’s Office shows one-way air fare for Jenkins and a staffer from Richmond to Las Vegas was $652 each. The return flight, which now included a captured fugitive, Steven Bowers, was $1,117.
The invoice shows including flights, meals, rental cars and baggage fees to extradite Bowers cost just shy of $3,500.
In December 2015, Jenkins and a deputy flew from Dulles International Airport to San Diego at $600 per first-class ticket to extradite Brittany Zacher. It cost $801 for three return trip tickets, an invoice reads. That trip cost $4,400, including air fare, hotel, car rental and food.
The six-foot, 300-plus pound Jenkins said it’s easier for him to travel first-class than coach. “First and foremost I am a big guy,” he said “Have you seen the size of coach seats?”
The broadcast also criticized Jenkins for traveling on extradition trips.
“Guilty as charged,” Jenkins responded, saying his office was in the middle of providing extra security for a major trial when the Las Vegas trip occurred which created a staffing issue.
Other times he flew on extradition trips, he said, there were a certification issues. Jenkins explained the law requires law enforcement must travel in pairs when extraditing a person and at least one person must hold the proper certification to fly with a firearm. When he entered office, less than one-third of his staff had such certification. Now, the number has more than double, he said.
Records show, since Jan. 1, 2015, the sheriff’s office has completed 45 extraditions, including six in Florida, four in California, two from Las Vegas and one from Texas and Arizona each.