FLDS member wants food stamp trial delayed until next year

Posted at 7:48 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 18:55:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A member of the Fundamentalist LDS Church indicted in a massive food stamp fraud case is asking a federal judge to delay the trial until at least next year.

Citing the sheer volume of evidence (46 terabytes of video evidence, a Blu-ray disc of investigative reports approximately 25 MB, 24 hard drives at 2 terabytes each, 89 native discs, and nearly 50,000 pages of documents), the attorney for Hyrum Dutson said there is no way it is possible to be ready for an October trial.

The 11 defendants charged in the FLDS food stamp fraud case.

The 11 defendants charged in the FLDS food stamp fraud case.

“With the sheer size of discovery that has been produced as of August 8, 2016, and the sheer size of discovery anticipated to still be produced in this case; it will require much more than the remaining fifty-two (52) days of diligent work to process, review, and properly evaluate from a defense standpoint,” Dutson’s defense attorney Tyler Todd wrote, calling the current trial date “unrealistic.”

He asked for the trial to be delayed until May 1, 2017 or later.

U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart has set an Oct. 3 start date for a trial that is expected to last more than a month. Eleven FLDS members — including polygamous sect leaders Lyle Jeffs, Seth Jeffs and John Wayman — are charged with foods tamp fraud and money laundering. They’re accused of ordering faithful members of the church to hand over Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to leaders to do with as they wished. Federal prosecutors claim the scheme exceeds $12 million and accuse Lyle Jeffs of using money for a luxury car and spending cash.

FLDS bishop Lyle Jeffs leaves federal court on June 9 after being released from jail. (Image by Mike Reidel, FOX 13 News)

FLDS bishop Lyle Jeffs leaves federal court on June 9 after being released from jail. (Image by Mike Reidel, FOX 13 News)

With 11 defendants in the case, each with their own attorneys and defense strategies, putting on such a jury trial will be complicated. Todd does not address it in his motion, but another complicating factor is the disappearance of Lyle Jeffs. As FOX 13 first reported in July, the FBI believes the polygamist leader used olive oil to slip out of a GPS monitoring device. If he is not captured by federal agents prior to trial, it may not be possible to proceed until he is taken into custody.

Federal prosecutors allege that Lyle Jeffs has been acting under orders from his brother, imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage “marriages.”

Todd said in his motion that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah has not opposed delaying the trial, and also told him it did not know when it would be able to finish providing all the evidence gathered in its investigation.

“If the Government or the Court dismisses this case without prejudice, it can be refiled at any time in the next four years. As the Government waited over a year or longer after beginning the investigation in this case to seek and file indictments, additional time would cause no miscarriage of justice,” he wrote.

UPDATE, 8/19/16: By Friday, two more defendants in the case filed to continue the trial. Kristal Dutson and Nephi Allred joined Hyrum Dutson’s motion. U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart gave the remaining defendants until Monday to decide if they agreed or opposed a delay.

Read the motion to continue the trial here: