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Polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs caught after year on lam

Polygamous sect leader Jeffs was captured Wednesday, June 14, 2017, night in South Dakota after being on the run for nea.

Jeffs was stopped in Yankton after using a bathroom as he drove at a marina-resort next to picturesque Lewis and Clark lake that marks the border of South Dakota and Nebraska, Rothschadl said.

He and 10 other members of his group are accused of converting millions of dollars from the federal assistance program into cash.

Jeffs complied with officers when he was arrested Wednesday at a lakeside marina near the small town of Yankton in the southeastern corner of South Dakota, Barnhart said.

"I can't stress enough the public is instrumental in these sort of things", said Eric Barnhart, the FBI's Agent in Charge in Salt Lake City. A falling out with his brother Warren Jeffs, who runs the sect while serving a life prison sentence in Texas for sexual assault of underage brides, led to the lack of support, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has said.

A former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), Lyle Jeffs was indicted on food stamp fraud in February of 2016.

A third Jeffs brother, Seth Jeffs, pleaded guilty to charges associated with the food stamp fraud case.

Barnhart says authorities estimate Jeffs was in the area for a couple of weeks and lived out of his auto. Lyle Jeffs might also be charged for fleeing to avoid prosecution, though no such charge has been filed against him so far.

The FBI has no solid evidence that FLDS members or others were helping Jeffs elude authorities, but investigators are trying to patch together where he was and with whom he interacted the past year, Barnhart said.

Federal authorities say polygamist religious leader Lyle Jeffs has been captured, nearly exactly one year after he escaped from home confinement while he was accused in a multimillion-dollar food-stamp fraud scheme.

The FBI said an off-duty Yankton, SD, police detective followed a tip about someone who matched Jeffs' description.

According to the FBI's wanted poster, Jeffs was on home confinement while awaiting trial for his alleged involvement in a food stamp fraud case when he escaped.

After his brother's imprisonment, Lyle Jeffs became acting leader of the FLDS sect, a radical offshoot of Mormonism that began splintering from the mainstream church more than a century ago.

Jeffs, younger brother of notorious FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, escaped house arrest last July after using olive oil to slip a Global Positioning System tracking bracelet off his ankle. There is now no evidence that anyone was helping him, authorities said, but they are still investigating. The funds garnered were, then, diverted to "front" companies for purchasing thousands of dollars in items such as a tractor and a truck.

Jeffs and the other defendants claimed that they were sharing food and that it was a facet of their communal living. He said Jeffs is being held for the U.S. Marshal Service.



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