Saturday, June 25, 2016

UPDATED::Polygamous church leaders and members indicted, arrested in investigation of alleged food-stamp fraud | The Salt Lake Tribune

UPDATE::  Polygamous Sect Leader Is on the Run, Officials Say
The leader of a polygamous breakaway sect of the Mormon Church has gone on the run less than two weeks after he was released from jail and confined to a home in Salt Lake City pending a trial on fraud and money laundering charges, officials said.

Lyle Jeffs, 56, the de facto leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was discovered to be missing on Sunday, said Sandra Yi Barker, an F.B.I. spokeswoman in Salt Lake City.

Ms. Barker said that the F.B.I. had received several tips since Mr. Jeffs’s disappearance and that he was possibly seeking shelter in communities of the sect outside Utah, including those in Canada or Mexico. She warned that he was considered “armed and dangerous.”
In a case that some say could destroy Utah's largest polygamous sect, federal prosecutors on Tuesday announced indictments against leaders and members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on charges related to food stamp fraud.

Lyle Jeffs, who has been running the FLDS for his imprisoned brother, is one of nearly a dozen people named in an indictment that was unsealed Tuesday while FBI agents and sheriffs deputies searched businesses in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., that are owned by members of the FLDS. 

Also indicted was Seth Jeffs, full brother to both Lyle and FLDS President Warren Jeffs, the religion's prophet, who is serving a sentence of up to life in prison plus 20 years in Texas for crimes related to marrying and sexually abusing underage girls.

"If they're finally going to prosecute Lyle and the leaders of the church, it will eventually bring the church down," said Wallace Jeffs, Warren Jeffs' half-brother who was expelled from the church. "This pretty much cuts the head off the snake."
"This indictment is not about religion. This indictment is about fraud," U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said of the multiyear investigation. "This indictment charges a sophisticated group of individuals operating in the Hildale­-Colorado City community who conspired to defraud a program intended to help low-­income individuals and families purchase food."

Charged in the indictment are Lyle Steed Jeffs, 56, John Clifton Wayman, 56, Kimball Dee Barlow, 51, Winford Johnson Barlow, 50, Rulon Mormon Barlow, 45, Ruth Peine Barlow, 41, and Preston Yates Barlow, 41, all of Hildale.

Also charged are Nephi Steed Allred, 40, Hyrum Bygnal Dutson, 55, and Kristal Meldrum Dutson, 55, all of Colorado City; and Seth Steed Jeffs, 42, of Custer, South Dakota.
 "The violations included in the indictment are especially egregious since they allege that leaders of the conspiracy directed others to commit crimes, for which only certain people benefited," Barnhart said. "This type of conduct represents nothing less than pure theft. The FBI and its law enforcement partners will actively pursue those entities or persons who unlawfully manipulate and control government programs for their own gain."

Polygamous church leaders and members indicted, arrested in investigation of alleged food-stamp fraud | The Salt Lake Tribune

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