In case after case, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) has supported, defended and failed to report members who are known child abusers, and paid huge sums in damages and out-of-court settlements as a result of these actions.
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 lawsuit and our lawyers can help.
Update: Son of FLDS Leader Warren Jeffs Dead at 26
June 3, 2019 – Roy Jeffs, son of imprisoned polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs and one of the first to speak out against him, was found dead from an apparent suicide at his Salt Lake City home on Friday, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Rachel Jeffs, one of Roy’s half sisters, went on record blaming the 26-year-old’s suicide on their imprisoned father.
“Father didn’t love him,” Rachel said. “[Roy] knew it. All of us knew it. We all got told Roy was a bad boy.”
Roy Jeffs broke from the flock in 2015 during an interview with CNN which provided stunning new insight into the man revered by thousands, and even considered a prophet among the FLDS.
“I remember him saying you should never do this,” Roy Jeffs said. “And then he did it to me.”
Another one of Roy’s half-sisters, Becky Jeffs, also participated in the interview and accused her father of years of sexual abuse.
The Mormon church has a unique culture that provides a haven for sexual abusers. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) leadership enables child sexual abusers to continue destroying people’s lives long after they become aware of the crimes. Because FLDS leaders do not bring known abusers to justice – and even cover up the abusers’ crimes – they are guilty of supporting this behavior and making it possible for more children to be victimized.
In addition to the shame and guilt that accompany any child sexual abuse, religious sexual abuse is even more heinous. The notion of trust in god can be horribly damaged when a child is sexually invaded by someone who is supposed to be acting on god’s behalf, and who was sent by an organization that proclaims itself as the Church of Jesus Christ.
If you were a victim of sexual abuse within the Mormon church or FLDS, you are not alone. We are here to help. We are committed to helping people whose childhood faith could not let them separate God from their sexual abuser, and who are now struggling to make sense of it all.
What’s the Difference Between the LDS and FLDS?
The recent scandals involving the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) have led many to confuse the sect with the Church of Latter-day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Mormons. Although FLDS members refer to themselves as Mormons, they are not connected to the LDS Church in any way. The fundamentalist branch separated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around 1889 because they were unwilling to accept that polygamy as a church practice had ended. They broke away and formed their own communities, and any current LDS member who decides to begin practicing polygamy is excommunicated.
How Many FLDS Members Are There?
The FLDS Church is estimated to have between 6,000 and 10,000 members living in the following cities: Hildale, Utah; Colorado City, Arizona; Eldorado, Texas; Westcliffe, Colorado; Mancos, Colorado; Creston and Bountiful, British Columbia; and Pringle, South Dakota. The sect is also in the process of developing communities in Benjamín Hill, Sonora; Ensenada, Baja California; and Boise City, Oklahoma.
Warren Jeffs, the FLDS and a History of Sexual Abuse
Warren Jeffs, the ambitious son of FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs, took control of the FLDS in the late ’90s. Jeffs was obsessed with the idea of “perfect obedience,” and rumored to be attempting to create a master race through a secret breeding program known as the “seed bearers.” In 2002, the FLDS leader came under investigation for child rape in Utah, and went on the lam while marrying off teenage girls to the sect’s leadership. By May 2006, Jeffs had landed on the FBI’s 10-most wanted list for multiple counts of sexually assaulting minors. He was arrested later that year during a routine traffic stop outside Las Vegas while carrying 16 cellphones, 3 wigs and $56,000 in cash.
For a time, with the case against Jeffs falling apart, it seemed like he might actually beat the rap. But when Texas police breached the gates of his Texas compound in 2008, evidence emerged that resulted in the temporary removal of more than 400 children, sparking the largest child-custody battle in U.S. history. Also uncovered was evidence that Jeffs had taken multiple teen brides and married one girl who was only 12-years old. The disgraced prophet was extradited from Utah to Texas in August 2011, and eventually sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.
Church Members Ordered to Pray for Jeffs’ Escape
According to former FLDS member Joe Broadbent, church members must stop every hour during the day to pray for Warren Jeffs to escape from prison.
“That’s a big test for them,” Broadbent said. “He’s like, ‘the only way that I’m not out is because you’re not faithful enough’… he puts so much pressure on the people. They’re fasting… they don’t eat for three days at a time, [and] they pray, and pray and pray.”
Convicted Polygamist Still Leads FLDS From Prison
Despite being convicted and sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison nearly a decade ago, Warren Jeffs continues to maintain control over the FLDS behind bars, according to CBS News. Earlier this year, one of Jeffs’ wives tried to visit him at a Texas prison with a tiny microphone hidden in a hallowed-out watch. Another wife was denied entrance to the facility after a metal detector identified a recording device buried in her hair. These and other ploys to sneak Jeffs’ messages back to his devoted flock were revealed at a trial earlier this month, offering a rare glimpse into how the imprisoned prophet still tries to maintain control over the FLDS from behind bars.
FLDS Schools Teach Children Jeffs is President of the U.S.
Public schools in Colorado City and Hildale, which re-opened in 2014, were closed for 13 years after Jeffs ordered church members to homeschool their children using FLDS teachings. Jeffs believed public schools were an evil influence. According to former members of the sect, Jeffs’ face is on every school notebook, and FLDS schools teach that he is the president of the United States, and that man never landed on the moon because God guided Neil Armstrong away from it.
Jeffs’ Children Allege Sex Abuse
At least 2 of Warren Jeffs’ own children have alleged that the FLDS leader sexually molested them as children, according to CNN. Becky and Roy Jeffs, both now adults, are among 4 of Jeffs’ children to have have left the sect. Becky said she first revealed the abuse to one of her sisters, after the sister revealed she had been was molested as a child.
“I thought, I’m not the only one molested, he’s done it to her it must be something that was in his nature,” Becky Jeffs said. “Where does it end? If he had this in him, how can I trust him? How is he really our prophet?”
Couple Awarded $5.3 Million After Polygamist Towns Tried to Force Them Out by Refusing Water Supply
Ronald and Jinjer Cooke won a $5.3 million settlement after claiming their local governments had been “hijacked” by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, according to NY Daily News. The Cooke’s claim the municipal governments of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., discriminated against them for not being part of the FLDS organization. Government officials reportedly refused to give them access to running water in an effort to drive them out.
The Cookes and their 3 children moved to Colorado City in 2008, which together with Hildale encompasses the largely polygamous “Short Creek” community. Upon their arrival, the city refused to hook up electricity, sewage and water services for their home. The government eventually turned on the sewage and the electricty, but the family has continued to live without running water for over 5 years.
Attorneys for the 2 cities argued that the Cookes were denied utilities because of a local water shortage, and because they didn’t fill out the necessary paperwork. The defense also claimed that the family was being used as a pawn in a money-making scheme against the FLDS.
However, several former members of the church supported the Cookes’ accusations of discrimination. Patrick Barlow testified that he was part of an unofficial FLDS security unit that was assigned to spy on the family. Security team members even had access to the city’s surveillance cameras, according to Barlow.
In March 2014, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against officials in Colorado City and Hildale accusing them of acting as agents for the FLDS church, according to FOX 13.
Polygamist Cult Forced Husbands to Watch ‘Seed Bearers’ Rape Their Wives: Investigator
The FLDS banned its men from fathering children and forced them to watch as their wives were raped by “seed bearers,” or church members with “worthy bloodlines,” according to NY Daily News. Court documents and a private investigator claim that the FLDS engaged in “ritualistic procreation” after it forbade husbands and wives from touching each other. Sam Bower, a private investigator who wrote a tell-all account of the FLDS called “Prophet’s Prey,” said the no-contact rule was so strict, a couple wasn’t even allowed to shake hands under threat of adultery.
Jeff’s estranged sister-in-law Charlene first described “seed bearers” and systematic rape carried out by the FLDS in a child custody petition in 2015.
“It is the husband’s responsibility to hold the hands of their wives while the seed bearer ‘spreads his seed’” Charlene said. “In layman terms, the husband is required to sit in the room while the chosen seed bearer, or a couple of them, rape his wife or wives.”
Brower also spoke of the highly choreographed intercourse carried out by the seed bearers. “It’s ritualistic procreation,” Bower said, adding that sexual activities were “performed on a ritualistic bed-slash-altar.”
‘Lost Boys’ of the FLDS
Up to 1,000 teenage boys have been separated from their parents and thrown out of their communities by the FLDS, according to The Guardian. Many of these “Lost Boys” — some as young as 13 — were simply dumped on the side of the road by church leaders who told them they will never go to heaven or see their families again.
At least 6 of the Lost Boys have filed a lawsuit against Warren Jeffs, imprisoned leader of the FLDS, for conspiracy to purge surplus males from the community. FLDS officials claim the boys were exiled because they were teenage delinquents who refused to obey church rules; however, according to Utah attorney general’s office investigator Jim Hill, the expulsion had more to do with the sexual arithmitic of a polygamous sect.
“Obviously if you’re going to have three to one or four to one female to male marriages, you’re going to run out of females,” Hill said. “The way of taking care of it is selectively casting out those you don’t want to be in the religion.”
What Life is Like After Leaving a Notorious Mormon Polygamous Sect: Vice News Video
Boy Scouts, LDS Settle Nearly 20 Sexual Abuse Lawsuits
December 28, 2018 – A total of 19 lawsuits accusing the Boy Scouts of America and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) of harboring child molesters and systematically covering up decades of abuse have settled in civil court. The suits alleged that the Boy Scouts kept files on Scoutmasters accused of sexual misconduct, but failed to pass this vital information on to parents of children enrolled in the organization. The suits also contend that the scope of abuse was common knowledge within the Boy Scouts’ upper echelon, and that officials were aware of child molesters in their ranks, but kept that information a secret from law enforcement and families.
Lawsuit Accuses FLDS Church Leaders of Ritualistic Sex Abuse
January 4, 2018 – High-ranking members of the FLDS have been accused in a new lawsuit of carrying out a “calculated plan” of ritualistic sexual abuse involving girls as young as 8-years-old. The complaint names as defendants the United Effort Plan Trust, Warren Jeffs, his brothers Lyle Jeffs and Seth Jeffs, former FLDS leader Wendell Nielsen, and the FLDS Church.
Lyle Jeffs Sentenced to Prison for SNAP Fraud
December 19, 2017 – FLDS sect leader Lyle Jeffs was sentenced to nearly 5 years in prison for what authorities have called the largest food stamp fraud in U.S. history. In addition to the prison time, U.S. District Court Judge Ted Steward sentenced Jeffs to 3 years probation and required him to pay $1 million in restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
FLDS Leader Apprehended After Year on the Lam
June 19, 2017 – Bishop Lyle Jeffs has been captured, nearly a year since he escaped from home confinement while awaiting charges in a massive food stamp fraud scheme. Jeffs was arrested on a tip while sleeping in his truck at a marina in Yankton, South Dakota. He is being held without bond on a Federal Marshals Service hold in South Dakota’s Minnehaha County.
Sex Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against LDS, Boy Scouts
May 4, 2017 – Five men who were allegedly abused as children are suing the Boy Scouts of America (“BSA”) and Mormon Church because they say both groups fraudulently presented the Boy Scouts as a safe organization for boys to participate in. The complaint states that both organizations knew that there were child molesters in the Boy Scouts, but they covered up this information and failed to warn parents and children about the dangers.
FLDS Food Stamp Fraud Charges Dropped
January 10, 2017 – U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart on Friday approved federal prosecutors’ request to dismiss charges against Nephi Allred, an FLDS high priest who, along with 10 other high-ranking members, was accused of ordering rank and file church members to turn over food stamp benefits to be redistributed as the leadership wished. According to court documents, prosecutors requested dismissal of the charges in “the interests of justice.”
FLDS Leader Sentenced in Food Stamp Fraud Case
January 3, 2017 – Seth Jeffs, brother of imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) fraud. In exchange, he was sentenced to time served (about six months in jail), no probation or restitution, and he and his family would avoid further prosecution in the case. Jeffs will be required to sit in on a government-provided training on proper use of SNAP benefits.
Utah AG Investigating FLDS Human Trafficking Violations
November 15, 2015 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office may be conducting an investigation into human trafficking and labor violations associated with the FLDS, according to an advocate in Hildale, UT., and Colorado City, AZ. The investigation has been described as involving violations of child and adult labor; however, a spokesman for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes would not confirm the existence of any such investigation.
Warren Jeffs Won’t Answer FLDS Abuse Lawsuit
November 2, 2016 – Convicted pedophile Warren Jeffs has refused to answer a lawsuit filed by 32 ex-FLDS members alleging numerous crimes including child bride marriages, so the courts are proceeding without him. A notice of default was filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. Default status does not mean that Jeffs is off the hook for his alleged crimes, only that he’s failed to respond to the charges or appear in court.
$50K Reward Offered for Capture of FLDS Leader Lyle Jeffs
August 30, 2016 – The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Lyle Jeffs, acting leader of the FLDS. Jeffs has been on the lam since June, after slipping out of his GPS ankle monitor and escaping home confinement while awaiting trial on food stamp fraud charges. He had been in communication with his brother Warren while on the run and was sent away to repent last month after refusing to follow an order, according to the FBI.
Defendant Seeks to Postpone FLDS Food Stamp Fraud Trial
August 22, 2016 – One of the 11 defendants accused of defrauding the federal food stamp program to benefit the FLDS is asking that his trial be postponed until next year. Hyrum Bygnal Dutson’s attorney filed a motion Wednesday seeking to postpone the trial until at least May 1, 2017. The trial is currently scheduled to begin October 3 in federal court in Salt Lake City.
Warren Jeffs Restructuring FLDS from Prison, Feds Say
August 10, 2016 – FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is orchestrating a shakeup of his embattled polygamous sect, according to court documents filed this week by federal prosecutors. Jeffs has named his brother Nephi as the new bishop of Short Creek, and placed all church members on “restoral status,” meaning they must renew their commitment to the church. “My church order are out of order,” the prophet wrote in a June 3 letter to his flock.
Jeffs Wants Food Stamp Fraud Charges Dropped
July 13, 2016 – In a motion filed yesterday, Lyle Jeffs’ attorney asked a judge to dismiss the SNAP fraud charges against him, arguing a right to consecrate food stamp benefits for the church under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 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 according to “wants and needs,” according to Jeffs’ defense attorney Kathryn Nester.
Lyle Jeffs Flees Home Confinement; Federal Arrest Warrant Issued
June 21, 2016 – The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs, who authorities say disappeared just weeks after being released ahead of his upcoming food stamp fraud trial. Word of Jeffs’ flight angered many former FLDS members who didn’t think he should have been released from jail in the first place, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
“Blame the judge for this,” said Wallace Jeffs, one of Lyle’s half brothers. “Everybody knew that he was going to do this. Everybody.”
Judge Rules FLDS-Linked Company in Contempt for Child Labor Law Violations
June 20, 2016 – A federal judge has found a company with ties to the polygamous FLDS church to be in contempt of court for putting hundreds of children to work on a Utah farm in 2012. U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell ruled on June 1 that Brian Jessop and Paragon Contractors were in violation of child labor laws for the incident, where over 1,000 FLDS children were ordered to pick pecans at a farm in Hurricane, Utah.
“The children were not volunteers,” Campbell said. “Also, much of the work occurred during school hours and was hazardous, so that work does not qualify for FLSA’s agricultural exemption.”
Navajo Nation Files 2nd Abuse Lawsuit Against Mormon Church
June 1, 2016 – Another Navajo woman is suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), alleging she was repeatedly molested and raped while participating in the church’s Indian Student Placement Program from 1965 to 1972. The woman, referred to in court documents as “B.N.”, accuses the LDS of failing to report the abuse and protect her; she claims to suffer from severe emotional and physical trauma as a result of the abuse.
Prosecutors Want FLDS Towns’ Police Force Disbanded
May 2, 2016 – The U.S. Justice Department has asked a federal judge to break up the police force in the FLDS stronghold towns of Hildale, UT, and Colorado City, AZ, according to FOX 13. The request followed a jury’s ruling that the towns’ governments discriminated against community members who did not belong to the FLDS, and acted as an arms of the church and its leader, Warren Jeffs. The Justice Department also asked in a court filing (PDF) for property to be subdivided and independent oversight for the town governments.
Feds try to Block FLDS from Donating Food Stamps
April 27, 2016 – Federal prosecutors are attempting to block members of the FLDS from donating their food stamps to church leaders, according to FOX 13. Prosecutors allege that the FLDS has ordered its “United Order” members to hand over Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to church leaders to do with as they see fit.
“These authorities, which require SNAP beneficiaries to use the SNAP benefits to purchase eligible food for their households, necessarily prevent FLDS leaders from systematically requiring members to donate their SNAP benefits to the FLDS Church to be used outside of the authorized households as the church leaders see fit,” prosecutors wrote in a filing (PDF).
FLDS Settlement Reached in Discrimination Lawsuit
April 19, 2016 – In a settlement agreement filed in a Phoenix federal court, the U.S. Justice Department announced that Hildale and Colorado City had agreed to pay $55,000 each to settle claims in violation of the Fair Housing Act, according to FOX 13 News. Additionally, the defendants would pay about $1.4 million to 9 people who were found to have been discriminated against.
‘Sister Wives’ Lawsuit Dismissed
April 13, 2016 – A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by reality TV polygamist Kody Brown and his 4 wives, declaring that the family did not actually face a threat of prosecution from Utah authorities. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver said Brown and his wives cannot sue the state of Utah over its ban on polygamy because the family was never charged with any crime, and prosecutors agreed not to prosecute consenting adults with multiple wives, according to CBS News.
Former FLDS Members Reveal Church Secrets in FBI Docs
April 6, 2016 – A decade after the arrest of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, church members are disobeying their prophet’s orders and revealing long-held secrets to the FBI, according to FOX News. Former FLDS members speaking out against the sect include former cooks and drivers for the Jeffs family, as well as ex-wives and others close to the church’s leadership. Their words are included in hundreds of pages of new court documents, shedding light on the secret world of the FLDS like never before.
FLDS Leaders Predict Apocalypse
April 4, 2016 – This Wednesday, April 6, is the day both the FLDS and mainstream Mormon Church proclaim as the actual birthday of Jesus Christ, according to The Guardian. “I am hearing from people inside the FLDS that on April 6 there is going to be a kind of apocalypse,” said Elissa Wall, a former FLDS church member who escaped after being forced by Warren Jeffs to marry her cousin when she was just 14. “It is prophesied.”
So far, however, the only signs of an impending rapture are a series of nearly simultaneous criminal and civil lawsuits filed against the sect, leading many to question whether this really is the beginning of the end for the FLDS. “I think it’s certainly the beginning of the end of the FLDS as we know it,” Wall said.
Utah High Court Clears Way for FLDS Trust Lawsuit
March 26, 2016 – The Utah Supreme Court has validated a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by a woman who claims that FLDS leader Warren Jeffs forced her to marry her cousin when she was 14-years-old, according to the Miami Herald. The high court ruled on Wednesday that Plaintiff Elissa Wall can seek payment from the FLDS United Effort Plan trust, which is now controlled by the state of Utah. The trust is estimated to be worth about $110 million, and was formed by the FLDS so that all property in the twin polygamous cities of Hildale, UT., and Colorado City, AZ., would be held communally.
Lawsuit Accuses Mormon Church of Sexual Abuse on Navajo Children
March 25, 2016 – Two members of the Navajo Nation have filed a lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) alleging that it placed Native American children into Mormon foster homes where they were sexually abused, according to FOX 13 News. The complaint was filed Tuesday by a brother and sister who claim that they and another sibling were abused in the Mormon Church’s “Indian Placement Program” or “Lamanite Placement Program” (LLP) between 1976 and 1983.
Jury Rules FLDS Leaders Violated Constitution, Discriminated Against Non-Believers
March 8, 2016 – A federal jury has ruled in favor of all 6 plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against the FLDS-ruled towns of Colorado City and Hilldale, according to NBC News. The 2 cities, along with the Twin City Water Authority were found guilty of violating the 4th & 14th Amendments, as well as “the establishment clause” of the 1st Amendment, which prohibits government from favoring one religion over another. City leaders were also found guilty of violating the Fair Housing Act.
Trial Ends, Fate of FLDS Towns in Hands of Jury
March 4, 2016 – Closing arguments in a trial against the sister cities of Colorado City, AZ., and Hildale, UT., home to the FLDS, ended on Wednesday. Both sides claimed religious discrimination, according to Courthouse News Service. The U.S. Justice Department told the jury that Colorado City and Hildale had discriminated against non-FLDS members by denying water hookups, unfair police conduct and the excessive use of force, unreasonable search and seizure, and trespassing arrests of church outsiders. They also said that city officials were receiving directions from FLDS leaders, including Warren Jeffs himself.
The defense argued the towns themselves were not to blame; instead, they said claimed the FLDS church was responsible for the emotional distress and damages being alleged. The decision now rests in the hands of 12 Arizona jury members. They must decide whether Colorado City and Hildale engaged in housing discrimination, or violated the 1st, 4th or 14th amendments.
Judge Releases Defendant in FLDS Food Stamp Fraud Lawsuit
March 31, 2016 – U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart has allowed FLDS member Nephi Allred to be released from jail pending trial in a massive food stamp fraud case, according to FOX 13 Now. Stewart ordered Allred to remain in Salt Lake County and to wear a GPS tracking device at all times. FLDS leaders Seth Jeffs and Lyle Jeffs are challenging their detention orders, with hearings scheduled for next week.
South Dakota FLDS Leader Pleads Not Guilty in SNAP Fraud Case
March 22, 2016 – Seth Steed Jeffs pleaded not guilty yesterday to 2 charges of conspiracy to commit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to CBS News. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Braithwaite has appointed a St. George attorney to represent Jeffs. A status conference in the case has been scheduled for this afternoon.
Seth Jeffs Extradited for Food Stamp Fraud Hearing
March 21, 2016 – Seth Jeffs has been extradited from South Dakota to Utah to face charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and food stamp fraud, according to the Rapid City Journal. Among other accusations, prosecutors allege Jeffs and at least 10 other FLDS leaders forced members to give their food-stamp benefits — in food and cash transfers — to the church, which collected and redistributed commodities to the community as members of the leadership saw fit. Jeffs is scheduled to be arraigned today at 1:00PM in federal court in St. George, UT, before U.S. District Judge Robert Braithwaite.
South Dakota FLDS Leader to Remain Jailed Until Trial
March 3, 2016 – A U.S. magistrate judge ordered the alleged South Dakota leader of the FLDS to remain in jail until trial because there is a serious risk he would flee over what prosecutors call a multi-million dollar money laundering and food stamp fraud scheme, according to ABC News. Seth Jeffs, brother of the imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, was one of 11 church members indicted last week on allegations that leaders diverted at least $12 million worth of federal benefits by ordering members to buy things and give them to a ‘church storehouse,’ or by using the food stamps in sect-owned stores without actually getting anything in return. Authorities say Jeffs leads a compound of FLDS members in rural Custer County, South Dakota. The church itself is based in the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.
Does Welfare Fraud Signal the End of FLDS?
March 2, 2016 – In the wake of 11 federal indictments of leading members of the FLDS, there has been some speculation that the end of the church is near. But according to Ed Kociela of the St. George News, the latest round of arrests is little more than another chapter in the FLDS’ sordid history.
“The church will continue in one form or another, even though its most recent leader, Lyle Jeffs, was one of those rounded up by the feds,” said Kociela. “My guess is that although its numbers may decrease a bit, the FLDS church will continue on and rebuild because there’s just too much money involved.”
In addition to the approximately $12 million in food-stamp fraud, Colorado City members of the FLDS hauled in $8 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds from July 2011 through February 2013, plus another $20 million in medical benefits during the same period, according to Mojave County Supervisor Buster Johnson. The church also has money coming in through a variety of businesses operating in the construction industry and, according to some, other darker involvements.
Food Stamp Case Sparks Fear Among Hungry FLDS Members
March 1, 2016 – Among members of the FLDS, where food shortages are a way of life, there is escalating panic in the wake of arrests linked to allegations of food-stamp fraud. For years, church members were ordered to turn their food-stamp benefits over to FLDS leadership, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Investigators said food and cash transfers went to the church “storehouse,” where they were redistributed among members as the leadership saw fit. Now, with the top FLDS leaders in jail and the storehouse’s supply line broken, charity workers say it is not clear how rank-and-file members — many of them already facing dwindling food supplies — will provide for their families while remaining obedient to the church.
“They’d rather go hungry and have their children go hungry,” said Phil Jessop, a former FLDS member who helps run a food bank at his transmission-repair business just north of Hildale. “Those within the order will not come out here [to the food bank]. If they knew they were getting food from us, they wouldn’t take it.”
FLDS Fraud Exceeds $12 Million
February 29, 2016 – Court documents obtained by FOX 13 reveal that fraud on taxpayers perpetuated by the FLDS is more than $12 million. The figure was included in a filing that seeks to keep top leaders of the church in jail pending trial. A federal grand jury has indicted 11 people accused of ordering FLDS members to hand over federal food stamp cards to the church’s “United Order” to do with as they pleased.
“The conspiracy takes money for food from people it was intended to sustain and converts it into funds used by their leaders to further illegal activities, including maintaining the system of houses of hiding and places of refuge,” federal prosecutors said. “Because the funds for food are diverted to other purposes, hundreds of people – especially those disfavored by the elites – lack sufficient food. Thus, the conspiracy has a direct impact upon the people the SNAP program was designed to benefit.”
Top FLDS Leaders Indicted in Food Stamp Fraud
February 26, 2016 – Eleven members of the FLDS have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the nutrition assistance program and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to The Daily Beast. They face at least 5 years in prison for conspiracy and another 20 years for money laundering. The U.S. Justice Department is also suing the FLDS for violating child labor laws and civil rights infractions.
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Free Confidential 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 class action suit and our attorneys can help.