A federal judge won’t dismiss food stamp fraud charges filed against members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) who say sharing their benefits is legal under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been sexually abused, molested or otherwise harmed by a member of the Mormon Church or Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and our lawyers can help.
What’s the Problem?
November 17, 2016 – U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart announced Tuesday that the FLDS food stamp lawsuit doesn’t violate the religious freedoms of the sect, which is accused of operating a scheme that allegedly cheated taxpayers out of at least $12 million.
Fugitive FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs and 10 others have been accused accused of ordering church members to turn over their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to be redistributed as the leadership wished. Prosecutors argue the benefits are intended only for use by those they’re given to.
In a filing by the defense, Jeffs contends that he and other FLDS members have a right under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to give their property to the church. The FLDS live under the early Mormon concept of a “united order,” where members give their property and earnings to the church which divides it based on “wants and needs,” according to the filing.
Additionally, Jeffs argues that the U.S. government holds an unlawful bias against the FLDS Church, and that prosecuting them for food stamp fraud creates a “substantial burden” on their First Amendment right to religious freedom.
Judge Stewart will allow the defendants to make their communal-living arguments at a trial scheduled for Jan. 30. A lawyer for one of defendants says he’s disappointed the lawsuit will proceed, but felt confident that the religious freedom argument is strong enough to sway a jury.
Do I have a FLDS Lawsuit?
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Free Case Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one was sexually abused, molested or otherwise harmed by a member of the Mormon Church or FLDS, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.