The FBI is scrambling to find a polygamous sect leader who escaped home confinement.
Lyle Jeffs faces trial in October for allegedly scamming at least $12 million through food stamp fraud, but the feds have to find him first. Jeffs is believed to be the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect of Mormonism that practices polygamy, KSL reports.
A judge ignored prosecutors’ and family members’ warnings and allowed Jeffs out on home confinement. He fled Salt Lake City over the weekend.
Jeffs reportedly has seven wives and at one time had 63 children.
“Why the court would ever think the guy in charge of this criminal organization would not run is beyond me,” private investigator Sam Brower told The Associated Press. “The world needs to stop thinking about them as a religious group.”
Jeffs’s brother, Warren Jeffs, formerly led the sect. He was sentenced to life in prison for the sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl, claiming the victims were his wives. Warren fled and made the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list in 2006.
Lyle’s estranged son, Thomas, warned his father would make a run for it just like Warren did. Thomas told KUTV he suspects his father is disguised and fleeing to Mexico, likely copying Warren’s plan. Warren was arrested by police in 2007 driving a Cadillac Escalade carrying more than a dozen cell phones, a wig, sunglasses, a police scanner and at least $54,000 in cash.
“They’ll probably have to knock him on his ass to get him to come back,” Thomas said.
One of Warren’s estranged sons, Leroy Jeffs, predicted Lyle would run.
“If they got bail, they’d definitely run,” Leroy told KSL before Lyle ran. “That’s a given. They’d run just like my dad ran.”
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