Utah conducting organized crime investigation of FLDS church

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said his office is conducting an organized crime investigation into the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its fugitive leader, Warren Jeffs.

“I believe Warren Jeffs ran the FLDS church and the UEP as an organized crime-type setup,” Shurtleff said Monday. “We just have to get the evidence to prove it.”

The UEP is the United Effort Plan trust, the $110 million financial arm of the FLDS church, which owns businesses and property in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where the church is based.

Shurtleff told the Deseret Morning News that Jeffs and the church are being looked at for “double books, cooking books, offshore accounts and fraud.”

Shurtleff has contended in the past that Jeffs used the UEP to reward or punish followers. The attorney general petitioned last year to take control of the trust, and a special fiduciary was appointed to oversee it.


The FLDS is also considered to be a cult of Christianity. Sociologically,the group is a high-control cult.

“We’ve been following closely what the special fiduciary is uncovering from records and so forth,” Shurtleff said. “It has been very informative, we’ll say.”

Jeffrey L. Shields, a lawyer for special fiduciary Bruce Wisan, said the UEP did not keep much in the way of books or records.

On Saturday, Jeffs was named to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, and the federal reward for him was boosted to $100,000.

Jeffs, who is wanted on Utah and Arizona charges alleging he arranged plural marriages of underage girls, has been on the run for years, supported by money and resources from his followers.

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AP, via The Casper Star Tribune, USA
May 9, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday May 10, 2006.
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