SALT LAKE CITY — Fundamentalist LDS Church bishop Lyle Jeffs is asking to be released from jail, now that a judge has delayed the upcoming trial on food stamp fraud charges until October.
In court papers obtained by FOX 13, Lyle Jeffs’ attorneys argue that he should be released from custody while the case is pending.
“Should the trial commence on October 3, 2016, Lyle Jeffs will have spent a total of over seven months in jail while presumed to be innocent. Should the trial commence in May of 2017, the time of incarceration would total over fifteen months,” his lawyer, Kathryn Nester, wrote. “Furthermore, conditions relating to the risk of flight analysis have changed since the detention hearing due to the fact that all the co-defendants in this matter have been released and, on information and belief, have made no attempt to flee and have no reported violations of their conditions of release.”
Jeffs is the only member of the FLDS Church charged in the massive food stamp fraud case that remains in jail after U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart ruled he was a flight risk. In total, 11 leaders and members of the FLDS Church are charged with food stamp fraud and money laundering.
The trial was originally set for May 31. However, Judge Stewart pushed it back to October to give lawyers more time to go through more than 50 Terabytes of evidence the government gathered in the case. Some lawyers for the FLDS 11 want the trial delayed until May 2017.
Jeffs, who is a brother of imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, is accused of ordering polygamous sect members to hand over food stamp benefits to church leaders to do with as they wished. Federal prosecutors have alleged the scheme exceeded $12 million in taxpayer dollars.