SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 4, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Former fugitive Lyle Steed Jeffs, who fled home confinement last year while awaiting trial for food stamp fraud, now faces a one-month trial to begin Oct. 23.
That was the order handed down Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Ted Stewart. Jury selection begins Oct. 19.
Jeffs, a leader and at one time a bishop in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, was one of 13 charged in a fraud case which FBI investigators said cost more that $12 million by misappropriating food stamp benefits awarded to church members.
Jeffs escaped house arrest on the fraud charges in June of 2016, and was located in South Dakota and arrested in June of 2017.
Jeffs’ defense attorneys told the judge during a hearing Thursday that they plan to ask that Jeffs be tried separately on the charges related to his escape from home confinement and failure to appear in court.
Jeffs at one time was described as a “special counselor” to his brother, Warren Jeffs, believed by followers to be the prophet of the FLDS Church, a polygamist sect. Warren Jeffs is serving a life-plus-20-years sentence in a Texas prison after his conviction of child sexual assault charges.
Of the other 12 defendants charged with Lyle Jeffs in the food stamp fraud case, 11 accepted plea deals and charges were dropped against one.