FBI arrests polygamist Mormon sect leader Lyle Jeffs
The FBI said in a statement on Twitter that Jeffs, the de facto leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was arrested in South Dakota on Wednesday night and was in custody.
The FBI said he was detained in Yankton, South Dakota, Wednesday, where he lived out of his vehicle for two weeks.
As The Washington Post reported past year, Lyle Jeffs and other church leaders were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The FBI said Jeffs was taken into custody about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in southeastern South Dakota, where he is still being held. Jeffs is the brother of Warren Jeffs, the church’s former President and convicted felon now serving a life sentence. He escaped from home confinement in Utah in 2016, before his trial in an alleged food stamp fraud scheme.
At a news conference Thursday, FBI Special Agent in Charge, Salt Lake City Division, Eric Barnhart said the FBI knew it was just a matter of time.
Mr Jeffs was one of 11 senior FLDS figures arrested in February 2016 on suspicion of diverting funds from Utah’s food aid programme.
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.
The FLDS church leader was on the FBI’s most wanted list and there was a $50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
A store employee notified Haug that Jeffs was wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after Jeffs had left the store.
Jeffs is the brother of the sect’s highest leader, the imprisoned Warren Jeffs. No one is allowed to read or watch secular media or view the evidence law enforcement collected against Warren in Texas.
“The long arm of the law will eventually catch up with you and bring you back to justice”, John Huber, the US Attorney for the District of Utah, said earlier.
Lyle Steed Jeffs sold the Leatherman multitools for $37 at River City Treasures and Pawn in Yankton, South Dakota, on Tuesday using his last name as his first name, said owner Kevin Haug. He’s being held without bail on a United States marshall hold.
They say food stamps were also cashed at sect-owned stores without the users getting anything in return.
Polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs leaves the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City in January 2015.
Nine of them accepted plea deals and on had his charges dismissed. The funds garnered were, then, diverted to “front” companies for purchasing thousands of dollars in items such as a tractor and a truck.