Feds say Kingstons tipped off to federal raid, planned to flee to Turkey to avoid arrest

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SALT LAKE CITY — Recently unsealed federal court documents claim someone tipped off members of the Kingston polygamous family to a 2016 raid by the Internal Revenue Service.

The documents, filed ahead of a hearing on Wednesday for Washakie Renewable Energy CEO Jacob Kingston and his brother, Isaiah, also claim the brothers planned to flee to Turkey where they had stashed $130 million in a bank.

Jacob Kingston and Isaiah Kingston were arrested last week and charged with fraud and money laundering. They’re accused of illegally obtaining $511 million in refundable tax credits through Washakie Renewable Energy, the company Jacob Kingston is CEO of.

In arguing to keep the Kingston brothers detained, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah filed a motion that outlines the nature of the Kingston family (also known as the Davis County Cooperative Society and The Order), a group of about 7,000 members scattered across Utah and owning hundreds of businesses.

Federal prosecutors claimed that in 2016, when the IRS conducted a raid on Kingston-owned businesses, they found computers wiped and records destroyed. The feds allege the Kingstons were tipped off.

“The investigation has not revealed how the defendants learned that the government
obtained sealed search warrants, but multiple witnesses have stated that Defendants Jacob Kingston and Lev Aslan Dermen talked of having law enforcement contacts willing to provide them with information about ongoing covert investigations. One witness met with Defendant Jacob Kingston several weeks prior to the search warrant and Defendant Jacob Kingston stated to that witness that a federal agent tipped him off to the pending search warrants,” assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Goematt wrote.

Prosecutors also claim the Kingstons were planning to flee to Turkey, if arrested.

“One witness stated that Defendant Jacob Kingston said that if the government moved to arrest and prosecute him, he would flee to Turkey. This witness also heard that Defendant Jacob Kingston built a home in Turkey. Another witness told investigators that an employee of WRE heard from Defendant Jacob Kingston’s brother-in-law that Defendants Jacob Kingston and Isaiah Kingston had just returned from a two week trip to Turkey where they purchased a home and that Jacob Kingston and Isaiah Kingston intended to flee to Turkey with their families if it looked like they were going to have to go to jail,” the motion states.

Federal prosecutors claim the Jacob Kingston was arrested last week en route to Salt Lake City International Airport headed to Turkey. They also accused the men of intimidating witnesses in the case and attempting to bribe people.

“The investigation has revealed that Defendants Jacob and Isaiah Kingston paid bribes to an intermediary, who told them the bribes would be used for high-ranking officials at the Department of Justice and judges. For example, Defendant Jacob Kingston attempted to bribe an individual, whom he believed to be a high-ranking official within the Department of Justice, code name “Commissioner Gordan” to destroy records in the government’s possession,” Goematt wrote.

An attorney for Isaiah Kingston said he planned to challenge the motion.

“The government’s motion as it applies to Isaiah unfairly connects him to allegations without any evidence and is based mostly on unfounded inflammatory innuendo,” Scott Williams told FOX 13 in a text message.

It was not clear if Jacob Kingston had retained an attorney. A judge was expected to discuss that at Wednesday’s hearing.

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