FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs sentenced to nearly 5 years in prison, 3 years probation


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SALT LAKE CITY (KSL) — A judge sentenced FLDS church leader Lyle Jeffs to 57 months in prison and 36 months probation in a food stamp fraud case Wednesday morning.

Jeffs also must pay $1 million in restitution, Judge Ted Stewart ordered.

Stewart said Jeffs blindly followed the dictates of his brother, imprisoned FLDS church prophet Warren Jeffs, even when he knew they were wrong.

Jeffs pleaded guilty in September to food stamp fraud and failing to appear in court.

He and 10 other leaders or members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were named in an indictment alleging $191,000 in food stamp fraud in February 2016.

Jeffs was arrested but later released from custody in June 2016 while awaiting trial. He disappeared days later after investigators say he slipped off an ankle monitor. He was re-arrested last June in South Dakota.

Lyle Jeffs was accused of heading an intricate food stamp fraud scheme.

According to the indictment, Jeffs and other FLDS leaders diverted church members’ benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, away from the people authorized to receive them. Instead, the benefits were used as church leaders saw fit, the indictment said.

This article was originally published on KSL.com. It is used here with permission.