Polygamous leader sentenced to 5 years for food stamp fraud

By Ray Downs  |  Dec. 13, 2017 at 10:59 PM
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Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Former polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs was sentenced to nearly five years in prison Wednesday for running a multi-million dollar food stamp scam and fleeing house arrest while awaiting trial.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart sentenced Jeffs to 57 months in federal prison, which will be followed by three years of probation, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Jeffs will also have to pay $1 million in restitution to the federal government.

"I do, your honor, humbly and respectfully say I acknowledge my mistakes and decision making," Jeffs told the court, according to KSTU-TV. "I can now see things could have been done in a different manner."

In February 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice accused Jeffs and other leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints of conspiracy to commit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Department of Justice found that Jeffs took SNAP proceeds from people who were supposed to receive them and gave them to FLDS Church leaders and other ineligible beneficiaries for unapproved purposes, such as new cars and other non-food luxuries.

Jeffs was placed on house arrest pending trial, but allegedly used olive oil to slip out of his ankle monitor and fled in July 2016.

Jeffs spent nearly a year on the run before he was apprehended in June and pleaded guilty to the charges in September.

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