(Thursday, November 08, 2012) -- Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne received a substantial victory from a federal appeals court in his fight to prevent the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from recapturing control of assets worth more than $100 million.
In 2005, Utah brought an action and Arizona later intervened in support, to protect participants in a charitable trust known as the United Effort Plan Trust, which holds title to almost all land and homes in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah. The participants were threatened by the reckless conduct of then-trustees, who had refused, at the direction of FLDS leader Warren Jeff’s, to answer or defend a pair of lawsuits against Jeff’s and the trust for fraud and child abuse. A Utah state court removed the trustees and appointed a Special Fiduciary to manage and administer the Trust. It is well known, the older males maintain harems, and over 1000 young males have been expelled from the town so the older men will not have competition for the young women.
The FLDS is a polygamist sect whose leaders, including Warren Jeff’s, have long directed and facilitated a climate of intolerance against non-believers in Colorado City, Arizona and otherwise encouraged their followers to disregard the rule of law.
“This is a significant victory in the ongoing effort to restore the Rule of Law to Colorado City,” Horne said. “I remain passionately committed to doing everything possible to ensure that the people of Colorado City abide by the same laws as the rest of the United States, and that the FLDS never recover its ability to control the finances of its adherence in the same overbearing manner that existed before the trust was established.”
After waiting three years, the FLDS sued the Arizona Attorney General and others to regain control of the Trust, asserting that the seizure was unconstitutional. On November 5, 2012, in a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals said that FLDS officials waited too long to take legal action and ordered that their lawsuit against Attorney General Horne and the other defendants be dismissed. The appeals court reversed an earlier lower court decision that ordered the return of Trust assets to FLDS leaders and adherents of Jeff’s, who is now serving a life-sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting underage girls. The order enables the court-appointed Special Fiduciary to further administer and distribute Trust assets to qualified participants.