Federal authorities say polygamist religious leader Lyle Jeffs has been captured, almost a year after he escaped from home confinement while he was accused in a multimillion-dollar food-stamp fraud scheme. This frame grab from KSFY Television video shows polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs arriving at the Federal Courthouse Thursday, June 15, 2017 in Sioux Falls, S.D. Jeffs has been captured in South Dakota while apparently living.
As The Washington Post reported past year, Lyle Jeffs and other church leaders were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit supplemental nutrition assistance program benefits fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Polygamous leader Lyle Jeffs was arrested in South Dakota on Wednesday.
Authorities have been looking for Jeffs since last June, when he escaped from home confinement in Salt Lake City.
After Warren Jeffs was convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting two girls and sentenced to life in prison, Lyle Jeffs assumed the day-to-day control of the FLDS church.
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The fraud scheme, according to prosecutors, operated by Jeffs and other leaders instructing sect followers to purchase items with food stamp cards, then, give to an FLDS warehouse.
Huber said Jeffs' flight "will play a significant part in the prosecution".
FBI investigations revealed that after absconding, Lyle Jeffs spent time in the Short Creek area in July 2016.
The tipster provided police a partial description of the late-model silver Ford F-150 with Utah plates Jeffs was driving, said Eric Barnhart, FBI special agent in charge in Salt Lake City.
Rothschadl said police made the traffic stop as Jeffs drove through the marina after using a bathroom, but that he doesn't know why Jeffs was in southeast South Dakota. FLDS, which is not connected to the Mormon Church, branched off and continues to practice polygamy in small towns along the Utah-Arizona border.
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"Our working theory was that he probably had less support than his brother had when his brother fled a number of years ago", Barnhart said.
Lyle Jeffs literally slipped from the FBI's grasp last summer, so the agency will likely hold on a little tighter now that he's back in custody after a year on the run.
Meanwhile, Jeffs' co-defendants resolved their cases by pleading guilty to felony or misdemeanor charges.
"The long arm of the law will eventually catch up with you and bring you back to justice", he said, adding that Jeffs will now be facing trial on additional charges.
While Mr Jeffs was a fugitive, nine of the 10 other people charged in the high-profile February 2016 bust accepted plea deals. The laundered cash allegedly was used on big-ticket items such as a $30,000 pickup truck, a $14,000 tractor and $17,000 in paper products.
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