GPS devices place FLDS members in contact with each other, in violation of court order

Posted at 4:13 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 18:13:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY — GPS monitoring devices showed that members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church had contact with each other, in violation of a federal judge’s orders.

Seth Jeffs, John Wayman appeared before a U.S. Magistrate judge in St. George on Tuesday after being arrested by FBI agents for violating the terms of their pre-trial release. Court documents obtained by FOX 13 revealed the men had contact with each other, and GPS devices placed them at the same location.

FLDS members Seth Jeffs (left), John Wayman (center) and Preston Barlow (right) in mugshots provided by the Purgatory Jail.

FLDS members Seth Jeffs (left), John Wayman (center) and Preston Barlow (right) in mugshots provided by the Purgatory Jail.

A federal judge ordered the men released from jail pending trial, but required them to wear GPS monitoring devices and forbade them from contact them with each other, or any witnesses or victims in the case. Wayman is accused of violating the terms of his pre-trial five times.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Braithwaite ordered Jeffs and Wayman — who are considered bishops in the FLDS Church — to remain jailed pending a hearing in federal court in Salt Lake City next week. On Tuesday, FBI agents also arrested Preston Barlow and accused him of the same offense.

The three men are among 11 FLDS members charged in a multi-million dollar food stamp fraud scheme. They’re accused of ordering polygamous church members to hand over Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to do with as they wished. Defense attorneys have suggested the FLDS have a religious right to consecrate their property to the church.

Seth Jeffs is the brother of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the Utah-based polygamous sect. He is also the brother of Lyle Jeffs, who is also charged in connection with the food stamp fraud scheme but is on the run. FOX 13 first reported that Jeffs escaped from home confinement using a substance the FBI believes to be olive oil to slip out of his GPS monitoring device.

Read the order for John Wayman here: