Polygamous Sect Leader Lyle Jeffs Faces Up To 5 Years In Prison

Polygamous Sect Leader Lyle Jeffs Faces Up To 5 Years In Prison”

The 57-year-old Jeffs was arrested almost a year after he escaped home confinement while awaiting trial in the food-stamp fraud case.

"We're not out to punish people of faith, people of sincerely held religious beliefs".

Lyle Jeffs is facing up to four years on a fraud count, plus one year in connection to his escape, according to the Tribune. He was awaiting trial when he slipped off his ankle monitor and escaped in June of 2016.

U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber said it was a fair end to a hard-fought court battle.

Defence attorney Kathryn Nester declined to comment. Jeffs was caught after South Dakota pawn shop workers recognized him as he sold two pairs of pliers.

In exchange for the guilty plea to lesser food stamp fraud charges and Jeff's failure to appear in court, a money-laundering charge was dropped. Prosecutors said food-stamp benefits were funneled to pay for things like a tractor and a truck.

Food stamps approved for individuals of the community of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - centered in Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. - were instead used for the benefit of the group leaders and for communal use. Lyle Jeffs was the highest-ranking member of the group to face charges and was accused of orchestrating the scheme.

His brother, Warren Jeffs, is now serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting underage brides, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A trial had been set for October 23.

Of the others FLDS Church members arrested on fraud charges, nine took plea deals and charges against one were dismissed.

Jeffs will be sentenced in December. Members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

The group is an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, which disavowed polygamy more than a century ago.

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