Judge won’t separate FLDS members in food stamp fraud trial

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has ruled that Fundamentalist LDS Church members John Wayman and Seth Jeffs will not be tried separately from nine other people in a massive food stamp fraud case.

In an order issued Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart rejected defense requests to sever Wayman and Jeffs from the rest of the case and, alternatively, dismiss the indictment.

FLDS members John Wayman (left) and Seth Jeffs in jail booking mugshots provided to FOX 13.

FLDS members John Wayman (left) and Seth Jeffs in jail booking mugshots provided to FOX 13.

“Defendants were indicted on February 17, 2016. Less than eight months have passed since the Indictment was issued and trial is currently set for January 30, 2017. This delay, while lengthy, has not yet reached the level of being presumptively prejudicial,” Judge Stewart wrote.

“Therefore, this factor weighs against Defendants and the Court need not consider the remaining factors. Even considering these factors, the Court would conclude that Defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial has not been violated.”

Wayman and Jeffs are among 11 members of the FLDS Church accused of food stamp fraud and money laundering. They are accused of ordering faithful members of the Utah-based polygamous church to hand over Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to leadership. Federal prosecutors have claimed the scheme exceeds $12 million in taxpayer dollars and some of the money was used to purchase luxury vehicles.

Wayman and Jeffs are back in jail after the judge ruled they violated the terms of their release by meeting under orders from FLDS leader Warren Jeffs. Polygamist leader Lyle Jeffs (a brother of Warren Jeffs and Seth Jeffs) is considered a fugitive after escaping home confinement.