Utah wants utility company shut down over claims taxpayer money funneled to FLDS

Posted at 10:44 AM, Mar 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-20 23:57:28-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Attorney General's Office is asking a judge to dissolve a Hildale utility company over allegations taxpayer money has been siphoned to the polygamous Fundamentalist LDS Church.

In court papers filed in St. George and obtained by FOX 13, Sean Reyes' office alleges Twin City Water Works handed over money to the FLDS Church and its members. Some of it, the attorney general's office claims, was done at the request of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

"The UEP Trust has obtained and filed a copy of a letter in Third District Court from then-president and chairman of the board of TCWW, Joseph Allred. The letter is to Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS Church, who was a fugitive at the time, and details past TCWW revenue being used for personal expenses, including cell phone bills and cars. Allred asks Jeffs in the letter if he should continue using TCWW revenue for 'home bills,'" the filing states.

The Utah Attorney General's Office cites an accountant's report prepared for the U.S. Justice Department that claims nearly $2 million in taxpayer funds was funneled from the utility company to the FLDS Church. The Justice Department is suing Hildale and Colorado City, alleging a pattern of discrimination against non-FLDS members including denying them water and power.

"Based on information and belief, the TCWW water system is in very poor condition, and it appears that little revenue, if any, has been used for the maintenance, expansion, or development of the TCWW water delivery system," the filing states.

Utah Attorney General's spokeswoman Missy Larsen told FOX 13 on Friday that the attorney general's office has the authority to ask a judge to shut down the utility. She pointed out that no one would lose access to water in the desert towns.

Read the filing here:

In 2010, FOX 13 reported that then-Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff had said he ordered an investigation into Twin City Water Works. But in the years since, investigators said, there was not enough information to bring a case.

The court-appointed fiduciary of the United Effort Plan Trust, the court controlled real-estate holdings arm of the FLDS Church, received canceled checks and the letter to Jeffs seized in the raid on the polygamous church's Texas ranch. It was part of his efforts to recover assets belonging to the UEP.

"If I were to characterize it, I would say that FLDS leadership has been using Twin City Water Works as a slush fund," Bruce Wisan told FOX 13 at the time.

The UEP Trust filed its own lawsuit last week against Twin City Water Works here in Salt Lake City.

An attorney representing Hildale said the town only had a contractual relationship with TCWW , but in a filing in the U.S. Justice Department case, he pointed out that the Utah State Auditor declined to take any action and questioned what, if anything, it had to do with the town governments.

"If TCWW was misusing its corporate funds, this fact would not logically advance a material aspect of the case. As long as TCWW meets its obligations under its Agreements, Hildale Defendants cannot demand anything from TCWW, let alone control its financial practices. Even assuming that Hildale Defendants did have knowledge of TCWW’s finances, TCWW is the only supplier of bulk water in the area and their price is substantially lower than other suppliers in the region," Blake Hamilton wrote.

Read the filing by Hildale attorneys here:

Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault stemming from several "marriages" to underage girls. He is still believed to be in control of the FLDS Church. He routinely has his followers send the Utah State Legislature collections of his "revelations" from his prison cell.