Fugitive polygamous sect leader arrested in South Dakota
Authorities have arrested Lyle Jeffs, a fugitive leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who had been on the run for almost a year after fleeing house arrest, officials said on Thursday.
Jeffs, 57, was captured in South Dakota on Wednesday night and was being held in jail without bond, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office.
He had been on the run since he fled house arrest June 2016 in Salt Lake City, where he was awaiting trial with other leaders on charges they diverted money from the federal government food assistance program for the poor, authorities said.
“#ARRESTED: FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs in custody after nearly a year on the lam. He was arrested in South Dakota around 8:30 last night,” the FBI’s Salt Lake City office wrote on Twitter.
Lyle Jeffs is a brother of Warren Jeffs, who is considered the prophet of the sect and is serving a sentence of up to life in prison plus 20 years in Texas for illegally marrying and sexually abusing underage girls.
Prosecutors allege that Lyle Jeffs and other FLDS leaders in Arizona and South Dakota conspired to defraud the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, and conspired to commit money laundering.
Lyle Jeffs pleaded not guilty to the two-count indictment in February 2016 and was released from jail on June 9, 2016 ahead of his October trial date.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)