A polygamous sect leader pleaded guilty Wednesday in a multimillion dollar fraud case at the federal court of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Lyle Jeffs, a former bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, used his food stamp benefits to pay for inappropriate items, such as a tractor and a truck, reported the Associated Press. Jeffs followed an offshoot of Mormonism that believes polygamy is the exaltation to heaven.
He was able to escape home confinement by slipping off an ankle monitor in June 2016. The FBI recaptured Jeffs in South Dakota this summer after he pawned two pairs of pliers. He was allegedly living out of a pickup truck, reported North Dakota radio station KFGO.
Prosecutors charged Jeffs in the multimillion dollar food stamp fraud scheme as well as his escape from home confinement. His felony charges could lead to a five to 10 year sentence. He is also charged with a failure-to-appear count, which carries up to 10 years in prison.
“We’re not out to punish people of faith, people of sincerely held religious beliefs. We’re out to punish fraudsters. Lyle Jeffs is now a convicted fraudster,” said John Huber, US Attorney General for Utah, reported Fox13.
His brother, Warren Jeffs, is currently serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting underage brides, according to the FBI. Lyle Jeff’s is set for trial Oct. 23.
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