Polygamous leaders arrested in food stamp fraud

Posted at 4:06 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 16:06:45-05

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Latest on food stamp fraud and money laundering charges against the leaders of a polygamous sect.

1:30 p.m. 

Federal prosecutors are indicting top leaders and members of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect on accusations of food stamp fraud and money laundering.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release Tuesday that the leaders of the sect diverted funds from Utah's nutrition assistance program for inappropriate use.

Eleven people are charged in the scheme, including Lyle Jeffs and Seth Jeffs, who are brothers of imprisoned polygamous leader Warren Jeffs.

Lyle Jeffs runs day-to-day operations in the polygamous community of Hildale, Utah, on the Arizona border. Hundreds of law enforcement agents have been raiding businesses in the town Tuesday.

Seth Jeffs leads a branch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in South Dakota.


12:40 p.m.

Police are searching businesses in a polygamous town on the Utah-Arizona border.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah said in statement Tuesday that federal, state and local authorities are carrying out actions approved by a court. Officials didn't elaborate, saying court documents are sealed.

Spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch says the actions are taking place in Hildale and Salt Lake City.

Hildale resident Andrew Chatwin says officers on Tuesday went into buildings at five businesses owned by members of a polygamous group known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

He's familiar with the businesses because he's served court papers there in the past.

Chatwin says he's seen hundreds of officers and one woman led away in handcuffs. He says the businesses include a dairy store, produce store and a contractor.