SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has ordered two members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church to remain in jail pending trial on food stamp fraud and money laundering charges.
In an order issued Wednesday afternoon, U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart rejected a request by John Wayman and Seth Jeffs to be released from jail. Both men have been incarcerated for months after they were found to be meeting in Colorado City, Ariz., under orders from FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who is in a Texas prison doing life for child sex assault.
The meeting was a violation of a no-contact order previously issued by Judge Stewart. Lawyers for Jeffs and Wayman had argued that the men had learned their lesson and would not violate any other orders.
“The Court remains convinced that Defendants are unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions of release,” the judge wrote on Wednesday.
Read the judge’s order here:
Wayman and Jeffs are among 11 FLDS members indicted by a grand jury on food stamp fraud and money laundering, accused of ordering faithful members to hand over Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to leaders to do with as they wished. Federal prosecutors have alleged the fraud exceeds $12 million in taxpayer dollars.
In court on Tuesday, Jeffs and Wayman’s defense lawyers acknowledged that plea bargains had been offered. Attorneys for other defendants have also told FOX 13 that plea negotiations are under way with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber declined to comment on any plea deals being discussed when asked about it by FOX 13 on Tuesday morning.