FLDS man strikes plea deal in YFZ raid

Deseret News, Utah/August 15, 2008

Eldorado, Texas - A young man arrested in the early days of the raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch has struck a plea bargain with prosecutors here.

Schleicher County prosecutors said Thursday that Levi Barlow Jeffs, 19, recently reached an agreement over a misdemeanor charge of interfering with a public servant.

The deal calls for him to check in with probation officers on a regular basis and have no other violations of the law for a year.

"If he complies with all the terms of the agreement, it'll get dismissed," Schleicher County Attorney Raymond Loomis Jr. told the Deseret News.

A call to Jeffs' attorney was not immediately returned on Thursday. Loomis said Jeffs had no prior criminal history and the incident itself was not egregious.

Jeffs, who is the son of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, reportedly refused to cooperate with authorities who tried to stop a vehicle he was driving while on the YFZ Ranch. Inside the vehicle was a girl, Loomis said.

The case stems from the April raid on the YFZ Ranch where Texas child welfare authorities went to investigate a report from someone claiming to be a pregnant 16-year-old girl in an abusive marriage to an older man. Once on site, authorities said they saw other signs of abuse, prompting a judge to order all of the children removed from the ranch.

The call itself that sparked the raid is still being investigated as a hoax.

Hundreds of children were ultimately returned to their parents after a pair of Texas courts ruled the state acted improperly. Court hearings are scheduled Monday in nearby San Angelo, where Child Protective Services will ask a judge to place eight children back in foster care. CPS claims their mothers have failed to protect them from men involved in underage marriages.

A grand jury here has handed down six indictments on charges ranging from sexual assault to bigamy to failure to report child abuse. One of those indicted is Warren Jeffs.

Levi Barlow Jeffs was one of two people arrested during the raid's early days. A felony tampering with evidence case against Leroy Johnson Steed, 41, is still pending. The grand jury investigating the FLDS case meets again next week.

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