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Feds to use Warren Jeffs recording to keep followers in jail

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SALT LAKE CITY — Federal prosecutors plan to use a prison recording of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs in an effort to keep two of his followers in jail pending trial on food stamp fraud and money laundering charges.

John Wayman and Seth Jeffs (one of Warren Jeffs’ brothers) are asking a judge to revisit their detention. U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart ordered them jailed after prosecutors said the pair met — in violation of court orders — under a directive from Warren Jeffs.

In a filing on Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said it had obtained a recording of the FLDS leader meeting with one of his wives and a daughter while in prison in Palestine, Texas. While the government admitted it did not know exactly what was on the tape, prosecutors claimed the subject of conversation was John Wayman.

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.

“During the visit, Warren Jeffs referenced a recent revelation directed to John Wayman that Warren Jeffs previously provided to the two women. Warren Jeffs then instructed the women not to give the directive to John Wayman until such time as Warren Jeffs specifies,” assistant U.S. Attorney for Utah Rob Lund wrote.

“The last time Warren Jeffs issued directives to John Wayman and Seth Jeffs, of which the government is aware, both defendants complied with Warren Jeffs’s directives in specific contravention of the court’s express orders.”

Warren Jeffs is serving life in prison for child sex assault related to underage “marriages.”

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a 2014 deposition from the Texas prison where he is serving a life sentence.

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs in a 2014 deposition from the Texas prison where he is serving a life sentence.

A judge has scheduled a Tuesday hearing to decide the detention issue again for Seth Jeffs and Wayman. They are among 11 members of the FLDS Church facing charges accusing them of ordering faithful followers of the Fundamentalist LDS Church to hand over Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to church leaders. Federal prosecutors have claimed the scheme exceeds $12 million in taxpayer dollars.

In Friday’s filing, federal prosecutors also appear to acknowledge they are in plea deal negotiations with some of the 11 FLDS members. The lawyer for one of the defendants, Kimball Barlow, previously told FOX 13 his client had informed the feds he would take a deal that included no jail time.

Read the government’s filing here: