SALT LAKE CITY — Despite a plea on a prostitution-related charge, a judge overseeing the massive case over land in the FLDS border towns.
In a ruling handed down late Wednesday, 3rd District Court Judge Denise Lindberg declared that Bruce Wisan would remain on as the fiduciary over the United Effort Plan Trust (UEP). Wisan recently pleaded no contest to a charge of soliciting a prostitute.
That charge, while salacious in nature, did not phase Judge Lindberg who defended him in her order.
“By and large, he has performed his duties well, at times with no support from those who urged his appointment in the first place,” she wrote. “Regardless of what persons uninformed with the true facts of the case may say, the Court is aware of Mr. Wisans tireless work on behalf of the Trust and its beneficiaries.”
Both the Utah and Arizona attorneys general urged Wisan to be replaced. Judge Lindberg said the loss of institutional memory and knowledge of UEP issues outweigh any benefit to replacing him.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office issued a statement late Wednesday, saying:
“We are pleased that the court has appointed a new board of trustees and granted the board the responsibility to decide how residential properties will be distributed to Trust beneficiaries, subject to the court’s continued oversight and approval. Appointing a board is precisely what the Utah Attorney General’s Office advocated for so strongly at the last court hearing. We feel it will give those most affected the strongest representation in making these difficult decisions. We look forward to continuing to working with and offering our office’s support to the new board of trustees, the fiduciary, and the court to address issues related to the UEP Trust.”
Read the judge’s order here:
The judge also signaled that the UEP may be, after 9 1/2 years, entering a transition phase. She appointed board members to help oversee the Trust. They are:
- Greg Barlow
- Deloy Bateman
- Margaret Cooke
- Arnold Richter
- Don Timpson
The UEP was taken over by the courts in 2005 over allegations Warren Jeffs and other FLDS leaders mismanaged it — including claims of siphoning funds. The trust, which controls most of the land and homes in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., has become mired in controversy and debt.
The UEP is based on the early-Mormon concept of a “united order,” where people donate their assets to the church and it is doled out according to wants and needs. Recently, the court-controlled UEP began evicting people who have failed to pay a $100 a month occupancy fee, and FLDS leaders responded by erecting what appears to be a “tent city” in Hildale.
Warren Jeffs, once on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage marriages.