Polygamist sect leader Lyle Jeffs jailed for food fraud scheme

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Lyle Jeffs

A former leader of a breakaway polygamous Mormon sect has been given a nearly all 5-year sentence for fraud in addition to fleeing house arrest in Utah.

Lyle Jeffs admitted to orchestrating what authorities have called the nation’s largest scheme to defraud the federal food benefits programme.

He was arrested in June after nearly a year on the run in addition to has pleaded guilty.

His brother in addition to former Mormon leader Warren Jeffs was jailed in 2011 on child sexual assault charges.

Warren Jeffs, the former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), was found guilty of forcing two underage girls into “spiritual marriage” in addition to fathering a child with one of them when she was 15.

Lyle Jeffs, a former FLDS bishop, told a federal judge in Salt Lake City on Wednesday which he “humbly in addition to respectfully say I acknowledge my mistakes in addition to decision-doing”.

  • Fugitive US polygamist sect leader held
  • Warren Jeffs gets life in prison

Prosecutors say the FLDS leadership took their followers’ food stamp benefit cards in addition to sold them in order to pay for cars in addition to different luxuries.

According to court documents, “many families suffered extreme hunger, malnutrition in addition to related health issues” after being forced to hand over their benefits to Mr Jeffs.

“While members subsisted on meagre quantities of rice in addition to noodles,” Mr Jeffs had a “personal chef in addition to he regularly ate prime rib, halibut, lobster, scallops in addition to different expensive cuisine,” prosecutors said in their pre-sentence report.

His defence team had argued during his trial which his faith is actually based on communal living, in addition to which contributing food stamps would likely be like bringing a dish to a potluck in different faiths, the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper reports.

Mr Jeffs was also ordered to repay $1m (£747,000) in restitution to the US Department of Agriculture, which runs the food stamp programme.

Federal prosecutors had argued which despite being convicted of his first offence, he had for years presided over illegal activities which were ordered by his brother, Warren Jeffs.

What is actually the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

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  • The Mormon church, officially called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was founded from the US by Joseph Smith in 1830 in addition to currently has 14m members
  • Mormons believe their church is actually a restoration of the Church as conceived by Jesus in addition to which the different Christian churches have gone astray
  • The FLDS split by mainstream Mormonism after which banned polygamy in 1890 amid increasingly punitive laws
  • Its members see polygamy as necessary for reaping maximum reward from the afterlife
  • Former FLDS President Warren Jeffs was jailed in 2011 for sexually assaulting two children he took as brides

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