Judge schedules 10-week trial in Kingston fraud case

Posted at 7:03 AM, Apr 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-07 09:03:44-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has scheduled a 10-week jury trial beginning in July for members of the Kingston polygamous family.

In an order issued Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Jill Parrish set a trial date for Washakie Renewable Energy CEO Jacob Kingston; his wife, Sally; his brother, Isaiah; his mother, Rachel; as well as Lev Dermen, whom prosecutors have alleged was a business partner.

The five are charged in what federal prosecutors allege was a half-billion dollar fraud scheme involving renewable fuel tax credits for biofuels. The case stems from a 2016 raid by the IRS on Kingston-related businesses and properties. Lawsuits filed against Jacob Kingston have alleged Washakie produced no biofuels (something his attorneys have denied).

The Davis County Cooperative and Latter-Day Church of Christ, as well as a number of businesses linked to the group, have gone to a federal appeals court to block the use of documents seized by the feds. That case is still pending.

Jacob and Isaiah Kingston and Dermen have repeatedly asked to be released from jail pending trial, requests that have so far been denied. Federal prosecutors have claimed the men stashed millions in bank accounts in Turkey and planned to flee the country to avoid prosecution. The Kingstons and Dermen have repeatedly denied those accusations.

The case has also raised some connections between the Kingstons, who are prominent members of one of Utah’s largest fundamentalist Mormon groups, and Turkish political leaders. Photos published in Turkish news media last year showed Jacob Kingston meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other political leaders when he was pitching business investments there.

In 2016, FOX 13 found Washakie Renewable Energy was a big contributor on Utah’s Capitol Hill, making numerous political donations to members of the legislature, the governor, attorney general and Utah Republican Party. The company was also known for advertising frequently at Utah Jazz games and Megaplex movie theaters.

The jury trial is scheduled to begin in late July and go until early October.