Jeffs edict could stall reforms

He told followers not to sign documents for UEP property

Deseret Morning News/October 11, 2006
By Ben Winslow

Captured polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has reportedly issued a new edict to his followers: "Do not sign your name to any document for property that has already been consecrated to God."

The Fundamentalist LDS Church leader's latest proclamation could complicate plans to reform the $110 million United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust, which controls homes, businesses and property in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

The edict was revealed during a hearing Tuesday in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court.

"Some documents related to that (the edict) were in the Escalade and people that are in the community have told me that's generally well known," said Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the UEP Trust.

Jeffs was arrested Aug. 28 in a traffic stop outside Las Vegas inside a Cadillac Escalade. FBI agents seized papers, cash, cell phones and other items from the car believed to have helped keep the FLDS leader on the run.

Jeffs is currently in Hurricane's Purgatory Jail facing two charges of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. He is accused of forcing a teenage girl into a polygamous marriage with an older man.

Meanwhile, plans to reform the UEP Trust that Jeffs once controlled move on without him.

On Tuesday, a judge indicated she was just "days away" from approving historic changes to the trust by signing a proposed reform plan. In 2005, the judge took control of the UEP Trust amid allegations that Jeffs and other top FLDS leaders had been fleecing it from followers.

"I'm prepared to sign it as soon as I can," Judge Denise Lindberg said.

Wisan came to court with plats of subdivided property in Hildale and Colorado City. The proposed reformation of the UEP Trust would create individual property owners. Many non-FLDS members would likely be the first to receive property. FLDS members who won't sign paperwork may have to live under a sort-of "homeowner's association" with the UEP, Wisan said.

FLDS members have been instructed by Jeffs in the past to "say nothing, do nothing, sign nothing" with respect to the fiduciary and the UEP.

Despite the edicts, some apparently want change. Wisan indicated in court that an active FLDS member has signed an occupancy agreement on a home.

Wisan's lawyer, Jeffrey L. Shields, told the judge there is pressure to get a reformed trust in place - from people in the border towns.

"I think we're definitely seeing progress," Lindberg said. "We're moving forward."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.