B.C. polygamist rift sparks

U.S. lawsuit

Calgary Sun/April 27, 2006

Vancouver (CP) -- Concerns that part of the polygamist community in Bountiful, B.C., may "cash out" and move to another colony -- or start another one somewhere else in Canada -- have forced a Utah-controlled trust fund to ask the courts to intervene.

A lawyer for the United Effort Plan Trust, which oversees the assets of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the lawsuit will prevent some of the more extreme followers from liquidating properties and moving.

"We've just heard rumours that they may be going to another province. I've heard Manitoba and Saskatchewan mentioned," said Zachary Shields, a lawyer representing Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed accountant running the church trust in Utah.

About 400 of 1,000 people in the southeastern B.C. community are followers of Warren Jeffs. The others are followers of another leader, Winston Blackmore.

The division is causing a rift in the community.

Jeffs is wanted on criminal charges in Arizona and Utah, and has been hiding from the FBI for two years. He is accused of arranging marriages between underage girls and older men.

Utah's attorney general moved to take over the church trust last year when Jeffs' followers began liquidating assets and moving.

Jeffs supporters don't want to live next to Blackmore's supporters, people they consider "non-believers."

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