SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Lyle Steed Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS church accused of leading a food stamp fraud conspiracy and then escaping custody, pleaded guilty in Federal court on Wednesday to two of the counts against him.
In exchange another count was dropped, and he will spent between 3 and 5 years in Federal prison, and pay 1 million dollars in damages, and undergo supervised release. He will be sentenced in December by Judge Ted Stewart.
Jeffs is the 11th and last defendant in this years-long investigation. He fled custody but was found almost a year later in June, 2016.
He admitted in court to conspiring to commit fraud by having FLDS church members divert or give their SNAP benefits to the church. The money in restitution is supposed to go to the USDA and come from his assets and not the church.
“We are not out to punish people of faith, we are out to punish fraudsters. Lyle Jeffs is now a convicted fraudster,” said US Attorney for Utah John Huber after the hearing.
Huber said it was a tough case, but he believes Jeffs will get the full 5 years when he is sentenced.
“No one is ever satisfied, some think it’s too much, others think it’s too little,” he said.
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