Federal prosecutors launched a scathing assessment of Blackwater Worldwide’s former president Wednesday, declaring in an initial court appearance that he operated the security firm with “sheer arrogance” and a “scofflaw attitude.”

Gary Jackson and four past colleagues indicted last week appeared Wednesday morning before a judge who allowed them to go free as they await trial. A magistrate judge denied a government request to place a bond on each defendant but ordered them to turn over passports and refrain from possessing firearms.

The first court hearing offered a brief glimpse into the combative nature of a case that pits the federal government against former officials at a company that for years played a crucial role as a government contractor protecting U.S. officials in war zones.

Prosecutors slammed Jackson, arguing that he flouted federal regulations while building the lucrative security enterprise. As an example, assistant US attorney John Bowler said Jackson participated in an effort to falsify federal documents to hide that the company had provided guns as a gift to the king of Jordan.

“It is just another display of sheer arrogance and scofflaw attitude,” Bowler said.

Ken Bell, an attorney for Jackson, said federal officials were frequently aware of Blackwater’s activities and were on scene when the company provided weapons to Jordanian officials. He dismissed the charges as nothing more than “regulatory offenses.”

“At most, certain forms were not filled out,” he said.

The charges against Jackson, 52, include a conspiracy to violate firearms laws, false statements, possession of a machine gun and possession of an unregistered firearm. Also indicted were former Blackwater general counsel Andrew Howell, 44; former executive vice president Bill Mathews, 44; former procurement vice president Ana Bundy, 45; and former weapons manager Ronald Slezak, 65.

Source: Mike Baker for Times Online AP.

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Federal prosecutors launched a scathing assessment of Blackwater Worldwide's former president Wednesday, declaring in…