A Mormon Polygamist Allegedly Ran A $500 Million Scam. Here’s How

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • Mormon polygamist Jacob Kingston goes to trial in July for a scam involving his entire Mormon clan.
  • Kingston is a member of the Order, an organized crime ring and the largest Mormon polygamist sect in all of Utah.
  • He allegedly collected $500 million in fraudulent biodiesel credits, making millions shipping diluted loads across the U.S.

Mormon polygamist Jacob Kingston goes to trial in July for collecting $500 million in fraudulent biodiesel credits, an alleged scam involving his entire Mormon clan.

Kingston is a member of the Mormon sect the Order focused in Salt Lake City and founded by Kingston’s great-uncle, according to Bloomberg. Kingston is a polygamist with at least two known wives.

The Order is the largest Mormon polygamist sect in Utah, but authorities also call it an organized crime ring, Bloomberg reported Monday. The Order owns over 100 businesses and runs a company specializing in semi-automatic weapons, the publication added.

Kingston made millions of dollars shipping biodiesel fuel across the country and obtaining fraudulent biodiesel credits, according to the IRS. He allegedly falsified records and sent diluted loads of either biodiesel fuel or water to his colleagues for distribution, among other crimes.

The government has also accused his company, Washakie Renewable Energy LLC, of laundering $134 million to Turkey. Kingston considered moving his family to Turkey, was friends with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and married off his son in Turkey, a source revealed to Bloomberg.

The polygamist used his wealth to purchase a mansion for one of his wives in the Salt Lake suburbs and enjoy his own suite at Utah Jazz basketball games.

The Kingston clan had set commandments they followed: I, which stood for Incomings, and O, which stood for Obedience. (RELATED: Mormon Man Says He Was Excommunicated For Campaigning To Stop Sexual Purity Questions In Youth Interviews)

SALT LAKE CITY - OCTOBER 3: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the congregation sing a rest hymn in the Conference Center during the 179th Semi-Annual General Conference of the church October 3, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several thousand Mormons are gathering for two days to hear guidance from church leaders. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – OCTOBER 3: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the congregation sing a rest hymn in the Conference Center. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Incomings meant that Kingstons would work only for the benefit of the Kingston clan. Obedience signified utter obedience to the clan member higher than oneself.

This meant clan members obeyed who they must marry, where they lived or who they worked for.

Kingston eventually broke the Order’s rules and began advertising and working with non-blood relatives, specifically with Armenian immigrant and gas station king Lev Dermen, who owned the biodiesel producer Noil Energy Group Inc.

A source told Bloomberg that Dermen asked to be called “Lev,” which means “lion” in Russian, and that Dermen traveled in armored cars with security after attempts on his life.

Dermen received special treatment when he took the source to lunch. “It was like straight out of ‘The Godfather,'” the source told Bloomberg.

Prosecutors allege Kingston falsified documents to pretend his biodiesel appear as the pure variety required by the government.

The IRS and the Environmental Protection Agency unsuccessfully raided Kingston’s home and offices on the morning of Feb. 10, 2016. Someone had tipped off the Kingston clan, and officials found no evidence.

Officials apprehended Kingston on Aug. 8, 2018 as he attempted to board a flight with his family.

Kingston and his brother Isaiah face charges for “filing false claims for fuel tax credits, conspiring to obstruct justice, and witness tampering,” according to Bloomberg.

Kingston, Isaiah, Kingston’s wife and mother, and Dermen also have been charged with “conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering,” according to the report.

All five pleaded not guilty, and Dermen has asked to be tried apart from the Kingston clan.

The Kingstons’ lawyers also requested the trial exclude the words “polygamy” and “the Order,” as well as the Davis County Cooperative Society, which is another name for the Kingston clan.

Witnesses fear retribution for providing evidence. Kingston clan witnesses experience more pressure than most witnesses, sources told Bloomberg.

“They’re not just holding the person’s life in their hands,” the source told Bloomberg. “They’re holding their salvation and eternal life in their hands.”

The trial is set to start on July 29.

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