ST. GEORGE – It will probably take a court order to make town marshals in the twin polygamist communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., say whether they are loyal to the state or to their church, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Monday.
Shurtleff told Utah’s Police Officers Standards and Training [POST] council that town marshals have “stood by” while property has been moved from the communities.
A court-appointed fiduciary, assigned to protect assets in a trust formed by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, objects to the removal of certain property, including buildings.
Removed property belongs to beneficiaries of the trust, not church leader Warren Jeffs, Shurtleff said. Jeffs is wanted by the FBI, charged with arranging a marriage between an underage girl and older man.
Shurtleff said that during depositions taken by his office, the marshals – who have jurisdiction in Utah and Arizona – remained silent when asked whether their allegiance is to the state Constitution or to the church.
“One officer said he refused to answer under oath,” Shurtleff said. He told the council none of the five marshals is a known polygamist. A POST official met with the towns’ officers last week.
The attorney general also said he is comfortable with the FBI taking the lead in the search for Jeffs. Recent reports of Jeffs in British Columbia, where the sect owns property, prompted calls from Canadian authorities offering aid.
“I told them to get in touch with the FBI,” said Shurtleff, who added Jeffs is an unusual fugitive.
“He’s not a lone guy out there,” said Shurtleff. “He has all the money, credit cards, security and [probably] dozens of places to hide. . . . But they’re going to catch him.”
Mar. 21, 2006