Polygamist leader drops Las Vegas fight over traffic stop items


LAS VEGAS (AP) – Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has dropped a Nevada federal court fight to prevent prosecutors from getting items seized from the vehicle he was in when he was arrested last year.

A lawyer for the jailed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints refers to the matter as “moot” in documents filed in U.S. District Court judge in Las Vegas. The lawyer, Richard Wright, did not immediately respond Monday to messages seeking comment.

The declaration was filed June 27, nearly 10 months to the day after Jeffs was arrested on Interstate 15 outside Las Vegas and the FBI seized documents, computers, cash, debit cards and several electronic devices from a Cadillac Escalade driven by Jeffs’ brother, Isaac Jeffs.

Warren Jeffs, 51, is being held in a county jail in southern Utah, awaiting trial Sept. 10 in St. George, Utah, on state charges of rape as an accomplice. He is accused of arranging a 2001 spiritual marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch in Salt Lake City said Monday that the Las Vegas case was made part of a separate federal case pending in Utah against Jeffs.

“It just seemed the best thing to dismiss the action in Nevada and consolidate it here,” Rydalch said, adding that a federal judge in Salt Lake City gave investigators until the first week of September to identify possible evidence among the seized items.

Rydalch did not dispute earlier reports that the FBI confiscated $54,000 in cash, 15 cell phones, portable radios, wigs, four laptop computers, and papers, letters and electronic documents.

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City indicted Jeffs in March on a charge of fleeing Utah to avoid prosecution on criminal charges. The one-count indictment covers a five-month period in 2006, although Jeffs is believed to have been in hiding since late 2003.

Jeffs’ defense lawyers had argued that the traffic stop outside Las Vegas violated Nevada state law, and that items seized from the vehicle should not be used as evidence in Jeffs’ case.

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a sect with roots in early Mormon theology that believes plural marriages bring exaltation in heaven, and that unions can only be sanctioned by Jeffs.

The faith’s membership numbers an estimated 10,000, most in the twin border communities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.

Associated Press Writer Jennifer Dobner in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Ken Ritter, AP, via the Las Vegas Sun, July 9, 2007, http://www.lasvegassun.com

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday July 9, 2007.
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