$2M offer has been accepted by Utah corporation
An issue involving 1,311 acres of land in Apple Valley that were under the United Effort Plan and then transferred to a company believed to have ties to a polygamous church leader may be resolved next month with the sale of 436 acres and a clear title on the remaining property.
Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary for the UEP – the financial arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which teaches polygamy as part of its doctrine – said an offer of $2 million for 436 acres has been accepted by Advantum Inc., a Utah corporation. Wisan said this was an offer that William R. Jessop, registered agent for Aspen Management Investments, LLC, had entered into with Advantum before attorney Roger Hoole filed a notice of interest on the sale of the property, which stopped the contract from going through.
Hoole, of the Salt Lake City law firm Hoole and King, has been acting on behalf of several former members of the FLDS Church known as the “Lost Boys,” young men who say they have been exiled from the FLDS church. Hoole wanted to stop the sale because he said it was not in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the UEP.
Wisan said the court will have a hearing on that sale Sept. 20. If the sale goes through, the money, with the exception of $425,000, would go into a fund to be used by Wisan on behalf of the UEP. The $425,000 would be given to Aspen Management to pay an outstanding debt with attorneys Rod Parker and Scott Barry.
Wisan said there is no guarantee the money going to Aspen Management would be turned over to Parker and Barry, but it does not matter to him. Wisan said that to pay the money and have clear title would save time and money.
“The attorneys calculated that it could be 12 to 18 months of litigation and possibly a couple hundred thousand (dollars) to get to that same position,” Wisan said. “Barry and Parker have a claim – not all against the UEP – and if the money goes for legal services or for a (FLDS) temple in El Dorado (Texas), it’s not important or that germane,” he said, referring to a temple built by some members of the FLDS church in a complex in rural Texas.
According to the notice of lis pendens, or pending action, filed in 3rd District Court on May 27 by Callister, Nebeker & McCullough, attorneys for Wisan, several properties, including the 1,311-acre Apple Valley Property, were transferred from the UEP to Aspen Management in September 2004. The court documents further state that at the time the transfers were made, Aspen was owned and/or controlled by FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs and/or other trustees of the UEP Trust and that Aspen was an insider and/or alter egos of the trust, Warren Jeffs and/or other trustees of the trust.
Jeffs is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for the month of August. He has been charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.
Jessop was not available for comment and Samuel Allred – a principal for Aspen Management and the manager for Boulder Mountain Group LLC – said he had no comment Friday when asked about his affiliation with Aspen Management before hanging up the telephone.
Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah Attorney General Office, said the office had received evidence that the UEP trust was being looted, that property was being sold below market value and that trustees were not responding to lawsuits, both of which got the office involved.
The attorney general’s office successfully petitioned in court to have all assets of the UEP frozen and the trustees, which included Warren Jeffs, stripped of authority over the trust.
The temporary restraining order was placed on the trust May 27, and Wisan was appointed the special fiduciary. Later, the trustees were permanently removed, and Wisan’s role as fiduciary was expanded.
One of the hold-ups with the land sale was a notice of interest filed by Hoole’s office. Hoole said because the land issue is going to be resolved in court, he has released his lawsuit although it does nothing for his clients.
“My clients would get nothing in the settlement, but this is the proper procedure for this to be resolved,” Hoole said. “My parties aren’t part of the settlement agreement, and there is no need for them to maintain their notices of interest, but they will have the opportunity in court to voice their position on the settlement of that property.”
Hoole said his clients filed claim to protect their families’ homes and what they contributed to the UEP when they lived there. However, they have put a hold on their legal personal claims to help this come to pass.
The property being sold is primarily listed on the Washington County Web site in 40-acre parcels with a market value of $51,300. While the value may not seem high, some parcels have a green-belt status, and much of the land is located in areas with limited accessibility and with no infrastructure in place. Selling off the property for $2 million for 436 acres brings the selling price to just less than $4,600 an acre. Wisan figures the deal is worth $4 million, with the remaining 875 acres going back in the hands of the UEP.
“A 4 million (dollar) value and having to pay off 10 percent for it and getting a clear title is worth it,” he said. “There has been a daisy chain of property ownership and part of the deal is titles all free and clear.”