Feb 26, 2016

Son of jailed FLDS leader says dad was doing 'dirty work' of Warren Jeffs

FEBRUARY 24, 2016

FBI agents converged on the border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Utah
Salt Lake City — (KUTV) Thomas Jeffs, who fled the FLDS community just over two years ago, says the arrest of his father Lyle Jeffs, is not surprising.

Tuesday, FBI agents converged on the border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Utah, raiding several businesses.

Lyle Jeffs and 10 others were indicted by a grand jury for 12 million dollars in fraud and money laundering that happened over a period of years. At the time of this post, 6 people were arrested. Five others remained on the run from authorities.

The U.S. attorney will ask a judge to keep all of Lyle Jeffs' crew in jail until they go to trail, calling them a flight risk.

"I figured it was coming," Thomas Jeffs said about the arrest.

Lyle Jeffs, who is brother of imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, has been calling the shots in the Utah-Arizona border community known as Short Creek. His son said he was a "patsy" for Warren Jeffs.

On Tuesday morning, FBI agents and local police raided the twin towns of Hildale and Colorado City to make the arrests.

Lyle Jeffs was arrested in Salt Lake City and was booked into the Davis County jail to await a hearing in federal court on Wednesday morning. What he was doing in Salt Lake is not clear.

The U.S. Attorney for Utah, John Huber, said the group was defrauding the Utah food stamp program called SNAP. FLDS people would apply for SNAP assistance, then the SNAP cards were either turned into FLDS leaders, or the food from SNAP was taken to FLDS food store houses.

Lyle Jeffs and others would then decide who the food was distributed among the community. In other cases, Huber said the cards were used for transactions in FLDS stores, then the government was billed for the food.

Thomas Jeffs said what the government alleges is true. He said SNAP cards should have stayed with the recipients, mostly women and children who lived alone because their husbands and fathers were kicked out of the FLDS community by the Jeffs.

"There's a lot of women and children who will go hungry because of all this," he said.

Thomas also agrees with the government in its claims that those who escaped authorities, and are on the run, could be in various houses of hiding. Thomas said the group has such safe houses in various locations and that once they are in hiding they use cash so their transactions cannot be tracked. They also use "burner" phones.

Two of the people who are on the run avoiding arrest are Warren and Lyle's brothers, Nephi and Isaac. Seth, another brother, was arrested on Wednesday too.

Although Huber insisted the raids had nothing to do with religion and were strictly about the alleged fraud, Thomas Jeffs said the arrests will impact tens of thousands of FLDS people in that their spiritual leaders are gone.

Thomas Jeffs said the people in Short Creek are no doubt afraid and living in chaos given that their leaders dictated every aspect of life - from marriages to who runs businesses, to what people wear. Still, he thinks it could force some to open their eyes.

"People can step back and say 'hey. What's really going on here?" he said.

He said many will remain loyal to Warren Jeffs but others could see things differently if left to make their own decisions.

"It's definitely collapsing," he said of the Jeffs' grip on his followers.

Federal authorities claim the Jeffs have created an elaborate system to avoid arrest. The government claims the crew has safe houses all over the continent and those arrested would use them if they are let out of custody.

Court documents say that even though Warren Jeffs has been incarcerated since 2007, FLDS leaders continue to devote enormous resources to maintain the system of houses of hiding. They also say the money from food stamp fraud was used to maintain the system.


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