FLDS buys another 60-acre parcel in Mancos

Cortez Journal/October 30, 2004
By Katharhynn Heidelberg

A man with ties to a fundamentalist Christian sect this month purchased additional property in Mancos, the Cortez Journal and Mancos Times learned recently.

David Allred, thought to be a member and agent of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, purchased a 60-acre parcel at 15252 County Road 39 in Mancos last year for a corporate hunting retreat.

According to records examined Thursday at the Montezuma County Assessor's office, a nearby 60 acres was sold to Sherwood Management Group, Inc., Oct. 8. A deed of trust for that property, at 15976 County Road 39, is signed by David Allred and also lists him as the president of Sherwood Management, with a postal box address in Mesquite, Nev.

Allred's initial purchase came to local attention when he declined to let Deputy Assessor Scott Davis into buildings at the 15252 address. Doing so is not illegal, but Davis said that, along with Allred's demeanor, prompted his suspicion.

The Sherwood Management property in Mancos went for considerably above market value - $725,000 for agricultural property situated next to public lands. Its assessed valuation, for tax purposes, was $156,900, with a possible market value of $200,000, Davis said Friday.

His office also said on Thursday that Sherwood Management secured a loan from the Jolujo Management Trust for $325,000, paying cash for the balance.

The deed of trust shows a Medford, N.Y., postal box address for Sherwood's lender. A search by the Journal failed to turn up information about Jolujo Trust or a telephone number.

Calls to FLDS attorney Rod Parker were not returned Friday by deadline.

The Journal was able to reach the Tucson home of James Bramble, who owns a 60-acre parcel between the Allred and Sherwood Management properties. A woman identifying herself as Bramble's wife said her family did not want to be involved in the rumors swirling around the land purchases.

"He's a very nice man," she said of Allred Friday. "They're good neighbors. They watch our property when we're not there." She also said Allred has been victimized by unfair gossip.

Rumors surround the insular FLDS sect, which broke off from the traditional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more than 60 years ago.

Many members of the FLDS Church are said to practice polygamy, which is not legal in Colorado and was disavowed by the Mormon church in 1890. There have also been allegations of sexual abuse and welfare fraud, or "bleeding the beast."

The most recent concern voiced by such polygamy critics as Boulder author Jon Krakauer was that Mancos could become the next Eldorado - a small Texas town near where the FLDS Church last year began a community on 1,691 acres, for which Allred acted as purchasing agent - as a refuge for residents of the joint FLDS communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. The church also owns land in Bountiful, British Columbia.

Law enforcement in Montezuma County and in Texas said previously Allred had not violated any laws of which they were aware and that he and the church both had the constitutional right to purchase property.

The church's elusive "prophet," Warren Jeffs, is being sought for three civil suits, however.

Speculation that Jeffs may be at the Mancos property, or that other church members may be concealed there, remained unconfirmed Friday.

Davis said that although people with disposable income frequently pay above-market for second homes, Allred's purchases were at such inflated prices as to not fit the "standard picture" and will not increase property values in the area.

Allred purchased the first parcel in July 2003 for $669,000, though the estimated market value sat at approximately $400,000.

Since the purchase, a hay shed on the property has reportedly been remodeled to include four bedrooms and four bathrooms, in addition to an extant three-bedroom residence.

The Mancos Times was told that Allred's latest purchase under Sherwood Management might contain two cabins and a large garage.

"This is anything but a typical sale," Davis said.

He said that Allred's ownership of nearby property at 15252 County Road 39 meant the new purchase at 15976 County Road 39 was not an "arm's length transaction," which is basically when a knowledgeable buyer and seller who have no relationship to one another act in their own best interest.

When adjoining property is purchased - no matter by whom - "it takes it away from being an arm's length transaction," Davis said.

"They (property owners) bought it for a reason. It usually means they're going to pay too much because they really want it. In this case, they paid way too much," he said.

Allred's property has the additional advantage of being an inholding, which ensures the surrounding land, on public property, will not be developed. "That makes it desirable for a lot of people," Davis said.

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