Federal judge delays FLDS food stamp fraud trial until October

Posted at 3:51 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 17:51:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has agreed to delay the upcoming food stamp fraud trial of members and leaders of the polygamous Fundamentalist LDS Church.

Citing massive amounts of evidence the federal government has gathered but still hasn’t handed over to defense attorneys, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart granted the U.S. Attorney for Utah’s motion to delay the trial until October.

“This is a complex case. This case involves the prosecution of a large number of defendants and involves an enormous amount of discovery,” the judge wrote.

Federal prosecutors said the FBI and other agencies had gathered more than 50 terabytes of evidence in the food stamp fraud case. Prosecutors have charged 11 members of the FLDS Church with food stamp fraud, including bishops Lyle Jeffs and Seth Jeffs (brothers to imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs) and John Wayman. Leaders are accused of ordering members to hand over food stamp benefits.

Prosecutors claim the scheme cost taxpayers more than $12 million.

Judge Stewart noted that some of the defendants in this case wanted the trial pushed back a year to May 2017. Others demanded the case be dismissed if it didn’t go to trial next week, as originally scheduled.

The judge set a month-long trial beginning Oct. 3.