Not guilty plea doesn't change sons' minds about FLDS leaders' guilt
(KUTV) Two top leaders in the FLDS faith entered not guilty pleas in federal court on Wednesday morning. Lyle Jeffs, brother to Warren Jeffs, the polygamous faith's leader, was in court in Salt Lake City along with John Wayman. Both plead not guilty to charges of food stamp fraud and money laundering.
But two former members of the FLDS faith and sons to top leaders, believe the two men are guilty.
"I was very happy. I had a big smile on my face," said Leroy Jeffs who is the son of Warren Jeffs. He says this means a major shake-up is underway within the faith. "When I heard they got a bunch of guys in charge I felt like something is going to come of this."
Thomas Jeffs, son of Lyle Jeffs, says it was odd seeing his dad in handcuffs but believes this is what he deserves.
"It's going to hurt the people, no doubt about it, but it's going to be what's necessary for the people to think for themselves."
Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman are two of the 11 leaders and members of the polygamous faith that were indicted on Tuesday in a law enforcement raid.
Thomas believes his dad is guilty of food stamp fraud because he says he witnessed it firsthand.
"When I was in the church I asked him why we are doing that and he says we will be fine and we are 10 steps ahead of the government there is nothing to fear," said Thomas.
In court prosecutors argued for no bail saying the polygamous leaders would run.
"We have serious concerns about the defendants' flight risk, their access to locations and resources that could help them abscond and keep themselves from the court jurisdiction," said prosecutor Robert Lund.
But Wayman's attorney says his client is not a flight risk. "Lived in the community for his entire life. Worked in the same place for 39 years. There is no flight risk what so-ever," said James Bradshaw. "We are not going to make any comment about the charges at this time but it will be a vigorous defense."
Wayman will be back in court on Friday and Jeffs will be back in court on March 7. Both are being held at the Davis County Jail.
In a federal court hearing Wednesday at the 5th District Court in St. George, three of 11 FLDS church leaders -- who were charged and arrested for conspiracy to commit SNAP benefit fraud and money laundering -- pleaded not guilty.
In the case USA v. Winford Johnson Barlow the Magistrate, Judge Robert Braithwaite, allowed the U.S. attorney a bail report and set a detention hearing for Monday, Feb. 29.
In USA v. Ruth Barlow, Barlow was appointed a public defender and she pleaded not guilty. Braithwaite set a detention hearing/status conference for March 21.
In USA v. Kristal Dutson, the defendant financially qualified for a judge appointed public defender. Local attorney, Aric Cramer was appointed to Dutson. Braithwaite scheduled a detention hearing for March 21.
At the end of the 15 minute hearing a pre-trial release was suggested for the three defendants and that possibility is currently being discussed.
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