RALEIGH, N.C. – The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the king of Jordan.

Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shake-up, was charged along with four of his former colleagues, according to the federal indictment.

The prosecution opens a new front of the government’s oversight of the sullied security company. Several of the company’s contractors have previously been charged with federal crimes for their actions in war zones, but the company’s executives have thus far weathered a range of investigations.

Blackwater has been trying to rehabilitate its image since a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 people dead, outraged the Iraqi government and led to a federal charges against several Blackwater guards — accusations later thrown out of court after a judge found prosecutors mishandled evidence.

Around the time that Jackson left the company, Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services.

The charges against Jackson include a conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements, possession of a machine gun and possession of an unregistered firearm. Also indicted were Andrew Howell, 44, former Blackwater general counsel; Bill Mathews, 44, former executive vice president; Ana Bundy, 45, former procurement vice president; and Ronald Slezak, 65, former weapons manager.

The case stems in part from a raid conducted by federal agents at the company’s headquarters in Moyock in 2008 that seized 22 weapons, including 17 AK-47s.

Blackwater officials enticed the local sheriff’s office to pose as the purchaser of 34 automatic weapons that would be stored on the company’s campus, something prosecutors called a straw purchase, according to the indictment. The Camden County Sheriff’s Office provided blank letterhead to the company, which then used the stationery to prepare letters ordering weapons.

Federal law prohibits licensed firearms dealers such as Blackwater from having more than two of the same style of machine gun. Law enforcement agencies can have fully automatic weapons.

Prosecutors also said company officials, hoping to land a lucrative overseas contract, presented the king of Jordan with five guns as gifts — then realized that they were unable to account for where the weapons went. To cover it up, they falsified four federal documents “to give the appearance that the weapons had been purchased by them as individuals,” according to the indictment.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Raleigh said the indictment should not suggest any wrongdoing on the part of Jordan or any of its officials.

Prosecutors also focused on Blackwater’s supply of short-barrel rifles, which dealers must register. The company purchased 227 short barrels and installed them on long rifles without registering them, and officials shipped the weapons with the barrels detached so that they could be reassembled overseas without facing the charge of exporting regulated weapons, according to the indictment.

Kenneth Bell, an attorney for Jackson, said the former executive was a true American hero. Jackson spent two decades in the military as a Navy SEAL.

“These charges are false,” Bell said. “He will defend himself, as he defended this country, in what he calls the greatest justice system in the world.”


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