Men suing trust, FLDS are booted from farm

Two brothers who filed a lawsuit against the United Effort Plan Trust and against Fundamentalist LDS Church leaders are being asked to move out of the Iron County dairy farm they live on.

“We are being evicted from our homes and that’s the same thing that Warren Jeffs did,” Sterling Harker told the Deseret Morning News on Thursday.

The special fiduciary of the court-controlled UEP Trust confirmed Thursday he asked Sterling J. Harker and his brother, William S. Harker, to leave the property in the wake of their multimillion dollar lawsuit.

“They sued the trust, and so I fired Sterling as an employee and asked them to leave the farm,” Bruce Wisan said, adding that communications between the two sides have not progressed.

The lawsuit filed in Cedar City’s 5th District Court contends that shares of the dairy farm were improperly handed over to the FLDS Church in 1997 at the request of Warren Jeffs, whom the lawsuit claims was acting for his father, then-leader Rulon Jeffs. When Sterling Harker expressed reservations, the lawsuit claims he was told: “It is what the prophet wants. You must support the prophet.”

The lawsuit states that over time, both William and Sterling Harker were removed from the farm’s corporate filings. Years later, a portion of the farm was sold, and Sterling Harker was told to move out. He filed a lien against the transaction.

In 2005, a judge in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court took control of the UEP Trust amid allegations that Jeffs and other trustees mismanaged it. The court has ordered reforms for the trust, which controls homes, businesses and property in the FLDS-enclaves in Utah, Arizona and Canada.

Last year, Wisan purchased the Harker farms for the UEP Trust at a sheriff’s auction. He is seeking to sell it to two members of the Harker family who are not FLDS members for $5.5 million. The sale would be an infusion for the cash-strapped trust.

Both Sterling and William Harker showed up to a court hearing in Salt Lake City last month to protest it, until their ownership claims are settled. The judge said their claims should be directed at the FLDS Church, not the UEP Trust.

“The main reason they did it (filed the lawsuit) was to delay the sale,” said Jeffrey L. Shields, an attorney for Wisan and the UEP Trust.

In response, the UEP Trust has filed papers seeking to have a judge declare liens that both men filed over the farm declared null. A hearing is expected to be held later this month, Shields said.

Sterling and William Harker were moving out of their homes on the dairy farm Thursday. Sterling Harker said his brother has also heard from FLDS leaders who are unhappy about the lawsuit.

“His wife was told to leave him,” he said. “She did.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday April 5, 2008.
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