The formal charges came a week after police arrested Seth Jeffs, 32, of Hildale, Utah, during a traffic stop in Colorado and seized $142,000 in cash, thousands of dollars in prepaid debit cards and his older brother’s personal records and correspondence.
The younger Jeffs and a man in the SUV with him were arrested in Pueblo on Oct. 28 on charges of prostitution and solicitation for prostitution.
Jeffs will be arraigned Nov. 17. The U.S. attorney’s office will pursue a federal indictment against him.
Federal prosecutor Philip Brimmer argued that Jeffs be held without bond because he was a flight risk and might elude authorities through a network of church members in Utah, Arizona, Texas, Mexico and Canada.
“He’s part of a chain that is purposefully trying to conceal Warren Jeffs,” Brimmer said. “He doesn’t have to be all of that chain, he is an important link to that chain.”
Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer said he didn’t want to penalize someone simply because they were a member of a particular religious community, but asked that Jeffs post a $25,000 property bond. A bond hearing was set for Friday.
Jeffs’ attorney, Ed Pluss, argued that the government had not proved that his client intended to help his brother. Jeffs told authorities that he was taking the cash, including money in a donation jar, and the documents to Texas to a bishop of the Leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which the elder Jeffs heads.
Prosecutors argued that it was clear that the items seized from the SUV, including debit cards worth about $7,000, were intended for his brother and were meant to help his brother maintain church business and receive money while on the run from the FBI.
Warren Jeffs, 49, has been a fugitive since his June indictment in Arizona on charges of arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a man who was already married. The FBI added a charge of unlawful flight against Jeffs and joined the search for him.
The younger Jeffs, who appeared in U.S. District Court in slate blue prison pants and a short-sleeved top, did not speak.
Pluss declined comment after the hearing.