San Angelo, Texas - The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints failed to file a response by the Friday deadline to the state's threat to seize its 1,600-acre ranch in Schleicher County.
A clerk in the 51st District Court office in Eldorado said at 5 p.m. Friday no filing had been received.
The Attorney General of Texas announced Nov. 28 it had begun legal proceedings to seize the YFZ Ranch on the basis that "proceeds from illegal activity were used to purchase the ranch, which FLDS leaders bought in a failed attempt to establish a remote outpost where they could insulate themselves from criminal prosecution for sexually assaulting children."
More than 400 children were removed from the ranch in a raid by state, local and federal authorities in 2008 prompted by a report of child abuse which later was revealed to be a hoax call. The children eventually were returned to their families, but evidence taken in the raid formed the basis for a protracted series of prosecutions that eventually resulted in the imprisonment of a dozen men from the sect, including its leader Warren Jeffs.
In the lawsuit filed in November, the state alleges that the property should be forfeit, based on information contained in a 91-page search warrant and seizure affidavit which details among other charges the state's allegations of money laundering against the sect. The affidavit includes bank records and other financial data to support its claims.
It was not clear late Friday what the state's next move will be. No response had been received to a set of questions emailed to the agency's public information office, and the FLDS attorney, Dan Greson of Houston, could not be contacted by telephone.