FLDS towns stay quiet by day ...

... but buzz with activity at night, fiduciary reports

Deseret Morning News/June 4, 2006
By Ben Winslow

During the day, the polygamous border towns of Hildale and Colorado City are eerily quiet. The streets are virtually empty, devoid of people or cars. The windows of homes are covered to keep prying eyes out.

At night, it's a hive of activity.

"It appears that the FLDS work projects are now being conducted at night under the cover of darkness," Bruce Wisan wrote in a quarterly report to a 3rd District Court judge in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.

Wisan is the court-appointed special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust, the financial arm of the Fundamentalist FLDS Church. In 2005, the Utah courts took control of the UEP Trust and its estimated $110 million assets.

According to Wisan's report, property and equipment are vanishing in the middle of the night, despite a court order freezing the removal of virtually everything from UEP land. Families loyal to Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs are shuffled between houses, and tall fences are being built to keep people out. The police - long criticized for their loyalty to Jeffs - aren't helping, either.

"Given the circumstances, including the lack of protection from the local police department, the fiduciary is handicapped in his ability to preserve and protect the assets of the trust," Wisan wrote. He criticized the local governments of Hildale and Colorado City for doing very little to stop unauthorized construction projects, including the fence buildings.

Despite the obstacles, Wisan's report had many signs of progress.

People are beginning to pay their property taxes after a monumental effort to serve some of the top leaders in the FLDS Church with tax notices. Wisan now has a list from the local power company of every address, which will help him serve notices faster. Another round went out last week.

Some people who were kicked out of the FLDS Church are coming back to Hildale and Colorado City, signing occupancy agreements for their original homes. Others are asking to build homes in the border towns.

Wisan said he has even begun settlement negotiations in a series of civil lawsuits against the UEP Trust. One was filed by Warren Jeffs' nephew, Brent Jeffs, accusing his uncle of sexually abusing him. Another involves a group of "Lost Boys" who were kicked out of the FLDS Church. A woman known as "M.J." is suing the UEP, claiming she was forced into a polygamous marriage by Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs is a fugitive on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. He is facing criminal charges in Utah and Arizona, accusing him of forcing teenage girls into polygamous marriages with older men. Federal prosecutors have charged him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. A $100,000 bounty is being offered for information leading to Jeffs' arrest.

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