Feds: FLDS fraud exceeds $12 million

Posted at 11:47 AM, Feb 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-28 16:13:30-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Federal court documents obtained by FOX 13 reveal prosecutors believe fraud on taxpayers perpetuated by leaders and members of Utah's largest polygamous church is more than $12 million.

The figure was included in a filing that seeks to keep top leaders of the Fundamentalist LDS Church in jail pending trial. On Friday, a federal magistrate judge ordered John Wayman, once a bishop in the FLDS Church and a confidant of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, to remain in custody until another hearing March 7.

John Wayman - Davis County Jail

John Wayman - Davis County Jail

Federal prosecutors are resisting defense efforts to release Wayman and FLDS bishop Lyle Jeffs, the brother of Warren Jeffs. In court filings, they have described a network of safe houses scattered across the United States, western Canada, Mexico and even South America. The court filing details aliases used by some, disguises, decoys, burner phones and efforts to avoid subpoenas served by law enforcement.

From the court filing:

lylejeffs1 lylejeffs2

Similar accusations have been leveled against Seth Jeffs (Warren Jeffs' brother, who was arrested this week in South Dakota). John Wayman was accused of wearing a disguise whenever he traveled out in public.

From the court filing:


Federal prosecutors have also alleged Nephi Allred "is a key was a key player in moving funds around for Warren Jeffs and the FLDS Church."

"Each of these defendants is a loyal follower of Warren Jeffs entrusted to participate in a scheme they know to be illegal. They have sworn to uphold Warren Jeffs’ directives. Given that disloyalty is met with swift consequences, the Court can infer that these defendants will continue to willingly follow the direction of Lyle Jeffs and Warren Jeffs," prosecutors wrote, seeking to have the men held in jail pending trial.

A federal grand jury indicted 11 people accused of ordering members to hand over federal food stamp cards to the FLDS Church's "United Order," to do with as they pleased.

"The conspiracy takes money for food from people it was intended to sustain and converts it into funds used by their leaders to further illegal activities, including maintaining the system of houses of hiding and places of refuge. Because the funds for food are diverted to other purposes, hundreds of people – especially those disfavored by the elites – lack sufficient food. Thus, the conspiracy has a direct impact upon the people the SNAP program was designed to benefit," federal prosecutors wrote.

Lyle Jeffs - Davis County Jail

Lyle Jeffs - Davis County Jail

A federal magistrate judge in St. George has allowed others charged in the indictment to be released with GPS monitoring.

Some defense attorneys have so far declined to comment. Wayman's attorney, Jim Bradshaw, told FOX 13 he would mount a "vigorous defense" on behalf of his client.

The court filings indicate that FLDS leader Warren Jeffs remains in charge of the polygamous church. He is serving a life, plus 20-year sentence for child sex abuse related to underage "marriages."

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a 2014 deposition from the Texas prison where he is serving a life sentence.

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a 2014 deposition from the Texas prison where he is serving a life sentence.

"Warren Jeffs’ followers consider him to be a prophet who speaks for God on earth. Warren’s brother Lyle Jeffs enforces Warren’s directives while Warren is in prison. Warren Jeffs’ top leaders and followers are absolutely loyal – either because of genuine devotion, or because of the extraordinary control Warren Jeffs and Lyle Jeffs exercise over their lives," federal prosecutors wrote.

"People who get cross-wise with Warren Jeffs or his brother Lyle Jeffs are afraid they will lose their families, their spouses, and their children. They may lose their homes, their jobs, their income and support. And, they fear they will lose their eternal salvation."