Court filing: The fiduciary says followers of Warren Jeffs may use the funds for a move
Lawyers for special fiduciary Bruce R. Wisan filed a writ Monday with the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver to stop members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from selling about 300 acres in Bountiful, B.C.
The pastoral community lies eight miles east of Creston.
Zachary Shields, one of Wisan’s attorneys, said the action was triggered by rumors FLDS members might sell the land to fund a move elsewhere.
Title to the land is held by the Bountiful Elementary-Secondary School Society, a trust set up by FLDS leaders to aid its schools in British Columbia. It also was formed to allow the property to be used as collateral for business loans.
The property, valued at about $2 million, includes a section of timberland, some homes, two school buildings and a meetinghouse.
Shields said Bountiful Society documents state that if it is dissolved or the land sold, holdings or proceeds revert to the United Effort Plan Trust – another property trust originally set up by FLDS members and now overseen by Wisan. Another 300 acres in Bountiful, which includes most of the homes in the community are held solely by the UEP trust.
Trustees of the Bountiful Society are James K. Zitting of Colorado City, Ariz.; and MacRae Oler, James M. Oler, and Merrill R. Palmer, all of whom live in British Columbia.
The writ alleges the society’s trustees have acted in a manner that is “oppressive and unfairly prejudicial” to the UEP trust, and not used the asset to benefit schools.
“The purpose of the lawsuit is to stop them from dissolving the society and failing to abide by its constitution, which says remaining assets should be delivered to the UEP trust,” Shields said.
Bountiful residents split into two factions in 2002 after Jeffs allegedly orchestrated the ouster of then-FLDS Bishop Winston Blackmore. Half the community’s 800 or so residents remain loyal to the FLDS faith and Jeffs; the other half are now aligned with Blackmore.
A Utah court put Wisan in charge of the UEP trust last May after the FLDS church failed to answer two lawsuits that targeted its assets.
The property trust’s assets, which consist of land and buildings in Hildale, Utah; Colorado City, Ariz.; and Bountiful, B.C., are valued at $111 million.