The FLDS leader’s computers, papers may hold business secrets
A court-appointed fiduciary is fighting polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs‘ efforts to get back items found with him when he was captured last month.
Bruce R. Wisan, who oversees a property trust once run by the FLDS sect, has asked a U.S. District Court judge in Nevada to reject Jeffs’ request that the items be returned. In a motion filed Monday, Wisan said computers and documents found with Jeffs may contain information related to the United Effort Plan Trust.
Wisan has managed the trust, which holds virtually all property in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., since May 2005. The towns are the home base of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which Jeffs leads.
The court action came after the FLDS church failed to defend the trust against several civil lawsuits and appeared to be diverting its assets.
Also on Monday, a Utah 3rd District Court judge gave Wisan the go-ahead to subpoena the items from the FBI’s Las Vegas Division, which still has custody of them.
Jeffs was captured Aug. 28 after the Cadillac Escalade he was traveling in was stopped by a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper on I-15 north of Las Vegas. He is currently at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, awaiting trial on two sex-crime charges related to his role arranging an underage marriage.
A search of the Escalade turned up, among other things, three laptop computers and various documents.
“I am assuming some of that is financial information, which may be very helpful to the trust,” Wisan said.
Las Vegas attorney Richard A. Wright, who is representing Jeffs in Nevada, filed a motion earlier this month seeking to seal off access to items found in the Escalade until a ruling is made on whether to return them to Jeffs.
Wright said the computers and documents contain religious materials deemed “sacred and confidential” by the FLDS church.
Wisan and his attorneys took a similar approach to get access to documents seized last October when two FLDS church couriers – including one of Jeffs’ younger brothers – were arrested in traffic stop in Pueblo County, Colo. They are currently sifting through those materials.
Wisan is attempting to untangle connections between FLDS-affiliated businesses, the property trust and a separate entity called the Colorado City Improvement Association.
The association was set up decades ago to foster and shield some business activities in the towns, separating them from the United Effort Plan Trust.
Wisan said the association may be receiving funds, such as rent payments from businesses, that should be going to the property trust.
“We’re having a hard time getting documents and information, which led to our interest in the documents found [in Colorado] and with Warren Jeffs,” Wisan said.