One by one, the leaders of this corrupt group are falling.
The former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Mormon cult associated with polygamy and child brides, just got 57 months in prison.
Lyle Jeffs, the brother of “prophet” Warren Jeffs who was given life in prison for molesting children, was sentenced for defrauding the government of millions of dollars in food stamps and cutting off his ankle monitor and escaping while awaiting trial.
U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart said during a hearing in Salt Lake City that Lyle Jeffs deserved the 57-month prison sentence because his behavior showed he doesn’t respect U.S. laws and puts his allegiance to his brother and the sect’s imprisoned prophet, Warren Jeffs, above everything else.
Stewart said Lyle Jeffs’ religious beliefs provide context for his decision to follow his brother’s orders, but don’t justify the fact that he “cheated” taxpayers out of government funds.
As the judge pointed out, Jeffs is an adult who knows right from wrong. He knew it was illegal to steal $11 million in food stamps, but he did it anyway, following a pattern of corruption prevalent within his family and the FLDS leadership in general. Jeffs was also ordered to pay $1 million in restitution.
Thankfully, Jeffs accepted some responsibility for his actions. He admitted he didn’t properly research food stamp fraud laws, implying he didn’t intentionally commit any crime, but I think there’s a little bit more to it than that.
“I do your honor humbly and respectfully say that I acknowledge my mistakes and decision-making,” said Lyle Jeffs, his hands and ankles shackled. “I do humbly accept my responsibly for my actions. I don’t blame anyone.”
His attorney Kathryn Nester said the scheme wasn’t malicious but was meant to ensure everyone in the group had food to eat as part of the group’s religious beliefs in communal living.
It’s a convenient argument, really. They believe in communal living, so they want to use the federal government to pay for their food, right?
Not really. The FLDS has long separated itself from the government, and it seems our laws only apply when it’s convenient for them. They don’t want to live by our laws banning child sexual assault and child marriage, so why should they be able to take advantage of social programs meant to benefit those who need it most?
With both of the Jeffs brothers in prison, there’s no telling where that leaves the FLDS and its members, but let’s hope these sentencings serve as a warning to the cult’s new leadership and that they decide to live by the laws of the United States.
(Screenshot via YouTube)