Jan 11, 2016

Former FLDS follower may be Lyle Jeffs’ new neighbor in Hildale compound

The Salt Lake Tribune
January 10 2016

Polygamy » United Effort Plan trust allows former or current FLDS members to live in houses if they pay fees.

After years of working in North Dakota, Ted Jessop is looking to move into a house in Hildale.

If he gets the house for which he has applied, he will be living in a compound where his neighbor will be the town's best-known resident ­­— Lyle Jeffs, thelocal bishop for the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

"I don't have any problems with those guys," Jessop, who no longer follows the FLDS Church, said of Jeffs and his family. "If they want to leave me alone, I'll leave them alone."

It could be the first time in years anyone has lived within the walls of the compound — known in Hildale as "The Jeffs Block" — without Jeffs' permission.

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The United Effort Plan, a trust managed by the state of Utah that owns much of the land in Hildale and adjoining Colorado City, Ariz., recently served an eviction notice on a house in the compound's northeast corner.

Isaac Wyler, a UEP employee, said he and four Washington County sheriff's deputies served a final eviction notice on the home Dec. 31. They had to climb over the compound's 10-foot walls and unlock a door from the inside.

Inside the walls, they found the two-story, 2,912-square-foot home abandoned and empty. Someone also had built tall walls on the interior of The Jeffs Block to seal the house in the northeast corner from the five other homes in the compound.

Wyler said that interior walls weren't there when he served a delinquent tax notice on the block a few years ago.

"It's like they're all segregated from each other now," Wyler said.

Lyle Jeffs, who is the full brother of imprisoned FLDS President Warren Jeffs, is thought to have been living in The Jeffs Block for about a decade, though neither he nor his family owns the property.

The block is owned by the UEP, which the state seized in 2005 out of concern Warren Jeffs was mismanaging it. Any family living in a UEP home is supposed to be paying $100 a month as well as the property taxes.

But it appears residents in The Jeffs Block have essentially been living there for free since 2008. That is the last time anyone paid the $100 occupancy fee, said Jeff Barlow, an attorney for the UEP.

"There are approximately seven to eight years of occupancy fees that haven't been paid," Barlow said.

The Jeffs Block consists of five parcels, each requiring a $100 monthly fee. That means the block collectively owes at least $42,000 to the UEP.

According to the Washington County Treasurer's Office, no one has paid property taxes on the parcels since 2013. The parcels collectively owed $58,141 as of Friday. Meanwhile, Lyle Jeffs has used the block to lodge his family. In interviews with The Salt Lake Tribune published earlier this month, two of his nieces said they lived there as recently as the summer of 2013 with about 60 people. Lyle Jeffs lived in what they called The Big House, a 23,875-square-foot home with multiple kitchens and where other residents of the block were required to attend scripture lessons twice a day.

Jeff Shields, the lead attorney for the UEP, said no one has lobbied the trust for any of the other homes on The Jeffs Block. If the trust were to evict over the unpaid fees, the UEP would suddenly assume responsibility for upkeep and taxes on the block's massive homes.

"If we find out there's crimes being committed in there," Shields said, "we would probably evict just to stop that."

There is no record of Lyle Jeffs having ever been charged with a crime. An attorney for Lyle Jeffs did not respond to a request for comment.

Jessop, 59, was a follower of Lyle Jeffs' father — the late FLDS President Rulon Jeffs. Jessop said the elder Jeffs told him to go "repent from afar" in the mid-1990s, took away his wife and assigned her to marry another man. Jessop said he was separated from most of his children and siblings in the process.

Jessop said he has worked in trucking and construction in North Dakota for years, though he and a brother still own a shop north of Hildale. Jessop said he had wanted another home he had built, but another family is living there.

The patriarch of that family had built the home in the northeast corner of The Jeffs Block — before any of the walls went up there. So a deal was suggested by the UEP: Jessop could have that Jeffs Block home if he paid the fees, taxes and some other closing costs.

That all amounts to about $64,000, Jessop said. He said he hasn't yet seen the house and is unsure he wants to pay that much.

If Jessop does take the deal, he wonders how long the Jeffs family members would be his neighbors. There is always some government agency investigating them, and an increasing number of people in Hildale and Colorado City no longer follow their orders.

"With the pressure coming to bear on those guys, I don't know who's living inside the great wall," Jessop said. "It's supposed to be a bunch of Jeffs followers, but I think little by little that's going to disintegrate anyway."



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