Polygamous Sect Leader Arrested After a Year on the Run

Lyle Jeff, an infamous name for being a polygamous sect leader, was arrested in South Dakota on Wednesday. He had been on the lam for nearly a year.

A tweet from the FBI went out Thursday morning to announce their capture. It read:

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“#ARRESTED: FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs in custody after nearly a year on the lam.”

Fox News reports that the officials received a tip about Jeffs, which they followed, and it led them right to him. He had been living out of his pickup truck but police caught him in a bathroom at a recreation-area. He surprisingly did not put up a fight.

Authorities aren’t sure why he was in the South Dakota area, but they happy to have caught him after he escaped from his Utah confinement in 2016. He was wanted for food stamp fraud charges.

Jeffs is being held in a jail in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for the U.S Marshall Service, Minnehaha County Jail Warden Jeff Gromer said.

Officials said he slipped out of his GPS ankle monitor and fled from a Salt Lake City house where he was on supervised home release.

The group, known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is based in a small community on the Utah-Arizona border. It also has a small compound in far west South Dakota.

Jeffs and 10 others from the sect were charged with fraud and money laundering in a multimillion dollar food stamp fraud scheme.

The FBI had issued a $50,000 reward and a wanted poster with bold red lettering saying Jeffs should be considered armed and dangerous. It was issued a decade after his brother Warren Jeffs was featured on a similar poster. Warren Jeffs is now serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.

Lyle Jeffs will likely face at least one other felony charge connected to his time on the run, U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber said.

Jeffs was the last of the defendants in the food stamp fraud case still behind bars when U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart reversed his earlier decision and granted Jeffs his release on June 9. Prosecutors opposed that move, arguing Jeffs was a flight risk.

Lyle Jeffs must now face the pending charges in federal court in Utah.

Jeffs allegedly instructed his followers to buy household food and items with their welfare (food stamps) and then “donate” it to the church. Then the leaders determine what to do with the items and how to distribute it.


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