DENVER – The brother of fugitive polygamist sect leader Warren Steed Jeffs pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of helping him avoid arrest.
Seth Steed Jeffs, 32, of Hildale, Utah, faces one federal count of concealing his brother. He said nothing during the brief hearing, allowing his attorney to enter the plea, and he declined to comment afterward. His attorney, Daniel Smith, also declined to comment.
Seth Jeffs is free on $25,000 bond. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A judge scheduled a Jan. 9 trial date.
He was arrested after a traffic stop Oct. 28 in Pueblo County, south of Denver. Authorities said he had nearly $142,000 in cash, about $7,000 worth of prepaid debit and phone cards and Warren Jeffs’ personal papers in his SUV.
Prosecutors accused Seth Jeffs of providing the means for his brother to remain on the run.
An FBI arrest affidavit said Jeffs told authorities he was serving as a messenger for his church, delivering the cash and other items to a church headquarters in Texas. The affidavit said he would not tell authorities where his brother is, saying “it would be stupid to tell anyone where he is because he would get caught.”
Warren Jeffs, 49, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is wanted on an Arizona charge of arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a married man and on a federal charge of unlawful flight.
Seth Jeffs also faces a Colorado charge of solicitation for prostitution, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison.
Authorities said a passenger in Jeffs’ SUV at the time of the traffic stop told Pueblo County sheriff’s deputies Jeffs had hired him and paid him $5,000 for sexual companionship.
Jeffs was issued a summons and was to appear in state court Friday, but that hearing likely will be rescheduled, Pueblo County Assistant District Attorney Steve Fieldman said.
The man in Jeffs’ vehicle, identified by authorities as Nathaniel Steed Allred, faces a state charge of prostitution, also a misdemeanor.