Mar 21, 2016

South Dakota leader of polygamist sect pleads not guilty

March 21, 2016

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A South Dakota man accused of helping to orchestrate a food stamp fraud scheme among members of a polygamous sect based on the Arizona-Utah border has pleaded not guilty.

Seth Jeffs is charged in federal court with conspiracy to defraud the United States and money laundering. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Braithwaite scheduled a status conference in the case for Tuesday afternoon.

The alleged scam involves church leaders in Warren Jeff's Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Authorities say Seth Jeffs is the bishop of the group's South Dakota congregation. Prosecutors say church leaders instructed members how to use food stamp benefits illegally.

Braithwaite on Monday appointed St. George attorney Jay Winward to represent Seth Jeffs. Winward did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

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