Hildale, Utah - Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has reportedly threatened members of his flock with excommunication if they cooperate with state officials in the ongoing feud over land in Hildale and neighboring Colorado City, Ariz.
Ex-members of the FLDS Church tell FOX 13 that Jeffs recently made the edict, ahead of a town meeting over the court efforts to reform the United Effort Plan Trust. The state is trying to settle the seven-and-a-half year dispute. The state took control of the UEP, which controls most of the homes and property in Hildale and Colorado City, amid allegations that Jeffs and other FLDS leaders mismanaged it.
The state is seeking to subdivide, give deeds and sell property in the towns to pay off millions in debts incurred by managing the trust. After initially refusing to cooperate with reform efforts, FLDS members lost a series of challenges claiming the court action violated their religious freedom rights.
The Utah Attorney General's Office is planning a town hall meeting at El Capitan School on Friday at 6 p.m., where they will discuss the next steps. Attorney general's spokesman Paul Murphy said news of Jeffs' latest edict was "disappointing."
"The edict to answer them nothing didn't help them then and it won't help them now," he said. "This is an opportunity to get some good information and be part of the solution. We'll go ahead with them or without them and hope they will get involved."
Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault, stemming from underage marriages he performed and participated in.