The temporary restraining order against the United Effort Plan and its trustees will remain in effect for another 10 days, a representative from the Utah Attorney General’s Office said Monday.
Tim Bodily, assistant Utah attorney general, said Monday that the next court date would be June 22. At that time, his office will ask the court to grant a final resolution by requesting that the UEP trustees be removed and a special fiduciary be appointed. None of the trustees or attorney representing the UEP attended the court hearing Monday morning in Salt Lake City.
UEP trustees include Warren Jeffs, Leroy Jeffs, Winston Blackmore, James Zitting, Truman Barlow and William E. Jessop, reportedly also known as William E. Timpson. The UEP was formed in the 1940s, and members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints contributed to the fund. The FLDS church dominates the twin communities of Hildale and Colorado City.
The church, which teaches polygamy as one of its doctrines, is led by Jeffs, the group’s self-proclaimed prophet. Members of the church recently built a complex in a secluded area of Texas.
Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff asked for the temporary restraining order to be put in place to prevent UEP trustees from transferring assets, including land, equipment or funds, out of the trust.
But despite the order, one 18,000-square-foot building that housed Cozy Log Homes manufacturing reportedly was dismantled and moved over the weekend, after the signing of the court order May 27.
Since then, Colorado City resident Ross Chatwin alleged that other UEP buildings have been cleaned out, but not much is being done to prevent it.
“There are things being taken from projects and businesses,” Chatwin said. “Since the temporary restraining order, it has been done a lot, and people are working nights stripping buildings, making things disappear.”
While the order is to freeze any transfers of UEP assets, Bodily admitted that it’s a difficult task for his office because it is difficult to determine property ownership.
Bodily said a representative from the Attorney General’s Office spent several days in the Hildale area, but primarily, the office will depend on local residents to keep them informed of activities that may violate the court order.
Since all assets of the trust are frozen, removal of any property is theft, and if a trustee is removing property, that person could be held in contempt of court. But since the court order freezes all assets, nothing – including property and equipment – should be moved or sold.
Local law enforcement has been appraised of the court order, and Bodily said he expects local law enforcement to act accordingly if there is a violation of the order.
Last week, Shurtleff said the court order was to protect the members of the FLDS church – all of which are beneficiaries of the trust because none of the trustees are coming forward to protect the assets of the trust.
Chatwin, who has been at odds with the FLDS church in the past, said Shurtleff has a lot of good intentions, but no action has taken place to cover what his office has said.
“All they (FLDS members working on behalf of Warren Jeffs) need is another couple of weeks and the whole town will be stripped down,” Chatwin said. “I just don’t know why the Attorney General’s Office doesn’t have someone down here watching.”
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