Utah formally seizes sect trust

The Associated Press/October 26, 2006

Salt Lake City -- A Utah state judge formalized the state's takeover Thursday of a $100 million community trust held for a group of polygamists in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

Third District Judge Denise Lindberg issued an order permanently removing the sect's jailed leader, Warren Jeffs, and five others as trustees; previously she had suspended the trustees.

The judge said she was keeping the power to appoint a new board of trustees, with the court-appointed fiduciary, Bruce Wisan, maintaining control of the trust in the meantime.

Lindberg's six-page order formalized arrangements made since June 2005, when Jeffs and the others lost control of a trust established by church leaders in the late 1940s over allegations of mismanagement.

The United Effort Plan Trust holds property and homes in both communities and some land in Bountiful, British Columbia. Lindberg put the trust in Wisan's care after state attorneys claimed some assets were being mismanaged or liquidated, possibly to keep Jeffs on the run.

The fugitive was arrested two months ago on charges related to the marriage of an underage girl to an older man.

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