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Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests polygamist Mormon sect leader Lyle Jeffs

"The bureau announced its capture in a Thursday morning tweet: "#ARRESTED: "FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs in custody after almost a year on the lam".

River City Treasures and Pawn owner Kevin Haug says a store employee in the small town of Yankton notified him that Jeffs was wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after Jeffs had left the store.

Lyle Jeffs was released from jail on June 9, 2016, and ordered to home confinement while awaiting trial on accusations he helped orchestrate a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme within the FLDS church.

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.

The sect, which is based in Utah, emerged when Mormon leaders suspended the practice of polygamy in the late 1800s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which calls the group "a white supremacist, homophobic, anti-government, totalitarian cult".

Jeffs had been living out of a Ford pickup truck and was in the area for, at least, two weeks, according to investigators.

But the joke might be on Jeffs, depending on how law enforcement officials charge him when he is extradited to Utah; assuming that he is brought back. An off-duty Yankton police detective spotted the vehicle and believed it was Jeffs.

"It was actually the acting chief of the Yankton PD who was off duty at the time down near the marina near Yankton, and he saw that vehicle", Barnhart says.

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The owner of a small-town South Dakota pawn shop says Lyle Jeffs revealed who he was on Tuesday when he pawned two pairs of Leatherman pliers for $37 and provided identification.

He fled house arrest a year ago while awaiting trial with other sect leaders for alleged food stamp fraud and money laundering.

Jeffs is the brother of the sect's highest leader, the imprisoned Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs is the brother of infamous polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who was convicted of child sexual assault in 2011 for his "marriages" to a 12-year-old and 15-year-old. Prosecutors argued Mr Jeffs was a flight risk.

John Huber, the U.S. Attorney for Utah said additional charges of fleeing could be added to the fraud charges.

Families that qualified for federal assistance were allegedly told to turn over their food stamp debit cards and take what they needed from a warehouse of pooled resources called "the bishop's storehouse".

Jeffs and the other defendants claimed that they were sharing food and that it was a facet of their communal living. "They feel god protected them". The church has a few thousand members and, unlike the contemporary Mormon church, believes in polygamy. Barnhart said it is unclear if Jeffs spent any time there. Yankton is 400 miles from an FLDS compound outside the tiny town of Pringle in southwestern South Dakota. Seth Jeffs didn't immediately answer an email seeking comment from The Associated Press, and a telephone for the compound went unanswered. A Republican state lawmaker this year frustrated with what he viewed as inaction over the sect's outpost in his district unsuccessfully pushed legislators to look into the compound.



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