The former president of Blackwater has been indicted on weapons charges.
Federal prosecutors today charged Gary Jackson with conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements and possession of an unregistered firearm, reports the Associated Press.
Four others were also charged, including former general counsel Andrew Howell and former executive vice president Bill Mathews.The AP reported last month that the Feds were considering charges stemming from a 2008 raid, in which federal agents found and seized 22 weapons, including 17 AK-47s. The Feds were probing whether Blackwater obtained the letterhead of a local sheriff in order to create a false justification for buying the guns.
Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services last year, after a 2007 shooting by Blackwater guards in Baghdad killed 17 Iraqis.
Late Update: The AP names the other two people charged: “Ana Bundy, who at one point had oversight of the firm’s armory, and Ronald Slezak, who was hired to oversee documents related to the company’s status as a firearms dealer.”
And it offers some more detail on the back-story:
Blackwater signed agreements in 2005 in which the company financed the purchase of 34 automatic weapons for the Camden County sheriff’s office. Sheriff Tony Perry became the official owner of the weapons, but Blackwater was allowed to keep most of the guns at its armory.
Federal law prohibits private parties from buying fully automatic weapons registered after 1986, but does let law enforcement agencies have them.
One of the 2005 agreements viewed later by the AP says the weapons will be kept under “lock and key” and doesn’t describe whether Blackwater would use the guns. Perry said at the time that his department only used the AK-47s in shooting practice at Blackwater and that none of his 19 deputies were qualified to use them.
Blackwater has said federal authorities knew about the weapons for years and that investigators got a complete look at the company’s cache in 2005 after two employees were fired.
In a 2008 interview with the AP, Jackson and other Blackwater executives said the company provided the local Camden County sheriff’s office a place to store weapons, calling the gesture a “professional courtesy.”