Two FLDS men held in contempt

Grand jury: After refusing to testify about religious leader, men are held without bail

Salt Lake City Tribune/April 13, 2006
By Brooke Adams

A federal judge in Arizona ordered two Colorado City men held on civil contempt-of-court charges after they refused to testify before a grand jury.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton on Friday sent James R. Allred and Mica S. Barlow, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to the Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence. No bail is set in such cases.

Federal and state authorities are investigating FLDS members' alleged roles in property theft, sex crimes and concealing Warren Jeffs, the fugitive leader of the polygamous sect.

However, it is unknown what the grand jury that summoned Allred and Barlow is specifically exploring, since its proceedings are secret.

Barlow, 37, is a deputy town marshal for Colorado City and the adjoining town of Hildale, Utah. Allred, 58, is the community's assistant postmaster and FLDS church official.

In that role, Allred has led church meetings, collected tithes and helped deliver edicts to men Jeffs has ousted from the church. He also is the father of two men who have figured prominently in the hunt for Jeffs, who is wanted on several felony charges in Utah and Arizona.

Those sons are Nathaniel Allred, a church courier, and David Allred, a top Jeffs adviser who helped set up new FLDS enclaves in Texas, Colorado and South Dakota.

Nathaniel Allred and another man were arrested last October while traveling through Colorado to Texas; a search of their vehicle turned up documents and $142,000 in cash, some in envelopes bearing Jeffs' name.

There are currently three federal grand juries empaneled in Phoenix; their terms end next March. Under federal law, a witness charged with civil contempt can be held until the expiration of the jury's term. Barlow and James Allred then could be brought before a new grand jury, starting the process over again.

The two may be ready for a long stint in custody.

"The word right now is they will stay there indefinitely if they have to to protect their prophet," said Isaac Wyler, an ex-FLDS member who still lives in Colorado City.

Rod Parker, a Salt Lake City attorney who represented the FLDS church in the past, said members see the situation as similar to persecution faced by Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The FLDS church traces its spiritual roots to the LDS faith.

Followers believe that "to betray leadership is an extreme sin," one that could cost them their salvation, Parker said.

If the men stay silent, a defense attorney could argue that continued incarceration is unlikely to succeed in compelling testimony from a witness, making the contempt charge ineffectual and thus justifying release.

Barlow and James Allred apparently are among a handful of people who were served subpoenas by FBI agents in January during a service at their church meetinghouse in Colorado City.

Church members vow silence

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is said to have told his followers to "answer them nothing" when authorities seek information about the church, the community's charitable property trust or other issues.

In February, several FLDS members refused to answer questions during depositions taken as part of an investigation into a missing grain elevator and other items a court-appointed fiduciary asserts belong to the trust.

Terrill Johnson, interim Colorado City mayor and a principal in the Meadowayne Dairy, clammed up after making this statement: "As far as my own knowledge of our dear nation of the United States of America, I have as much right to remain silent as you do to speak, and so I choose to remain silent."

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