The FBI has issued a federal arrest warrant for Lyle Jeffs, a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) who authorities has disappeared ahead of his upcoming food stamp fraud trial.
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.
Update: FBI Issues Wanted Poster for Jeffs, Considered ‘Armed and Dangerous’
June 22, 2016 – The FBI has issued a wanted poster for Lyle Jeffs, and said he may have fled to Canada or Mexico, according to FOX 13 NOW. The bureau said it has received a handful of tips regarding the whereabouts of the FLDS bishop, and that he has access to various modes of transportation, including airplanes and boats. Jeffs is known to carry weapons and have armed bodyguards around him, so he is to be considered armed and dangerous, according to the FBI.
What’s the Problem?
June 21, 2016 – Jeffs, 56, fled home confinement in Salt Lake City less than 2 weeks after he was released from custody pending trial, which is set to begin in October. U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart ordered Jeffs to remain on house arrest under GPS monitor and other strict conditions, including that he have no contact with witnesses, victims or co-defendants in the food stamp fraud case, according to CBS News.
Lyle Jeffs is the brother of convicted FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered his wives. Investigators say Lyle currently oversees the church’s headquarters in Hildale, Utah, but still takes orders from his brother Warren, a self-described “prophet.”
Lyle, another brother named Seth Jeffs, and 9 others were arrested earlier this year for allegedly forcing FLDS members to give their food-stamp benefits — in food and cash transfers — to the church, which collected and redistributed the commodities as it saw fit.
Prosecutors say that between 2011 and 2013, the FLDS leaders held meetings where they ordered church members to shop at Meadowayne Dairy Store and Vermillion Cliffs Produce, and gave “instruction on how to avoid suspicion and detection by the government.”
“Why the court would ever think the guy in charge of this criminal organization would not run is beyond me,” said Sam Brower, a private investigator who has researched the church for years. “The world needs to stop thinking about them as a religious group.”
All the defendants have pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges.
Did Warren Jeffs Tell His Brother to Escape?
In a recent interview with FOX 13, one of Lyle Jeffs’ sons said he believes imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs pressured his father to flee authorities.
“I believe Warren told him to run,” Thomas Jeffs said. “That would be the main reason he would run.”
Although Warren Jeffs is serving time in a maximum security prison, he has been able to slip coded messages out with the help of visitors. Lyle Jeffs will also borrow from his brother’s playbook used when he was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, according to Brower.
“Warren was very good at changing vehicles and keeping his bodyguards around,” Brower said.
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