Judge Considers Re-Release Of FLDS Leaders
A federal judge will decide whether to release two top members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
FLDS leaders Seth Jeffs and John Wayman are two of the 11 members of the polygamous sect who were indicted earlier this year on counts of fraud and money laundering for stealing money from the federal food stamp program.
The two were taken back into custody earlier this month after violating the terms of their pre-trial release. GPS monitoring showed the two had met with a third member in the middle of the night when they had explicitly been ordered not to have contact with one another.
On Monday in U.S. District Court, attorneys for Jeffs and Wayman argued that they did not pose a flight risk and should be released from custody before their trial begins. They admitted their clients had broken release terms when they met late at night, but said that it was to conduct church business, which they argued they still have the freedom to do.
U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart also heard arguments from prosecutors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rob Lund argued that after an initial violation of their release terms, the two can’t be trusted to obey other court orders and that they do pose a flight risk.
“Our position relates strictly to securing the defendants at trial and preventing obstruction of justice,” Lund told reporters after the hearing on Monday.
Acting FLDS President Lyle Jeffs was also charged in the case. Federal authorities say that in June, Jeffs slipped out of his GPS monitoring device and fled, possibly out of the country. He has not been seen since.
The trial in the fraud case is scheduled to begin in October.