UPDATE:: Ex-Polygamous Sect Leader Gets Nearly 5 Years in Fraud Case
A former polygamous sect leader was sentenced Wednesday to nearly five years in prison for his role in carrying out an elaborate food stamp fraud scheme and for escaping home confinement while awaiting trial.
The sentencing of Lyle Jeffs closes the book on a major government bust that took several years to investigate, culminating in February 2016 with fraud and money laundering charges against him and 10 other group members.
Lyle Jeffs was accused of being the ring-leader of a scheme that diverted some $11 million in food-stamp benefits to a communal storehouse and front companies over several years.
U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart said during a hearing in Salt Lake City that Lyle Jeffs deserved the 57-month prison sentence because his behavior showed he doesn't respect U.S. laws and puts his allegiance to his brother and the sect's imprisoned prophet, Warren Jeffs, above everything else.
UPDATE:: Judge: Lyle Jeffs jury will be told there is no rule against food donations, if you are allowed to buy the food
A federal judge on Wednesday ruled on the most contentious issue in the upcoming food-stamp fraud trial of former polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs — what the law says.Judge Ted Stewart, in a written ruling, said the jury will be told that only people authorized to receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may use those benefits to purchase food.
However, there is no prohibition on donating that food once it’s purchased, Stewart ruled, and he will not tell the jury otherwise.
Lyle Jeffs faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on a felony charge connected to being a fugitive. It is on top of charges in a multimillion-dollar food-stamp scheme that he is accused of helping orchestrate in a polygamous community on the Arizona-Utah border.
Many of the other 10 defendants in the food-stamp scheme struck plea deals with federal prosecutors, but authorities consider Lyle Jeffs to more culpable than others, prosecutor Robert Lund said.
Polygamous leader pleads not guilty to fleeing fraud charges | Miami Herald