Feds target towns allegedly run by polygamist leader

CNN/December 17, 2013

Colorado City, Arizona -- The 18-acre estate build for FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs and his scores of wives is the only thing he may have left if and when he ever gets out of prison.

But the home, built by his followers who would do most anything for him, no longer belongs to Jeffs. It is owned by Willie Jessop, who used to be Jeff's bodyguard and a spokesman for the church.

Jessop has received it in a legal settlement after his home and business were robbed, allegedly by church followers.

Now, he's helping the U.S. Justice Department in a lawsuit against the neighboring towns were Jeff's church is headquartered – Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT.

Jessop is giving information to the feds as they investigate charges that politicians and police in the two towns intimidate and harass anyone who isn't a member of Jeffs' polygamous church, and that they take orders only from Warren Jeffs himself; it is also alleged that Jeffs is giving orders from his jell cell.

CNN has obtained two letters written last summer by a former mayor of Colorado City, which proves critical to the Justice Department's case.

The letters send by Mayor George Allred, which are now in the custody of the Justice Department, were sent to Jeffs in his Texas prison cell. They are marked private, and in one passage, the mayor, who with other city leaders in the past has claimed that Warren Jeffs doesn't govern this town, asks Jeffs "We have much litigation…going on with people trying to take the city…I would like to get the more sure word of the lord on how far he wants us to go in all this arguing."

Another paragraph in the letter references the local police, known as the Marshal's Office. They, too, are all followers of Warren Jeffs, and have been accused of punishing non-church members.

Mayor Allred writes to Jeffs that "Johnathan R. has retired as police chief and Heleman B. is standing in as acting chief, if the lord has someone he would like to have in this position, it would be very helpful to get his sure word on who he desires to occupy that position."

Sam Brower is a private investigator, and has been on the FLDS trail for years.

The two letters basically cinch the Justice Department's case. They lock in the assertions in their case," Brower said.

Mayor Allred resigned several months ago after being kicked out of the church for some type of perceived unfaithfulness. It is commonly known here that like many excommunicated members, he is seeking repentance from somewhere outside this community, hoping to be allowed back.

The mayor of Colorado City is a man with the same last name, Joseph Allred, which is common surname in the area. No one at the mayor's office or with the police department spoke with CNN when asked for comment.

The attorney who represents Hildale, UT told CNN as far as he's concerned, the letters "have not been authenticated," and the Justice Department's allegations "are unfounded."

Warren Jeffs followers remain, for the most part, fiercely loyal, but there is increasing tension and confusion here.

The longer Jeffs is in prison, the more bewildered his followers get. There are members of the church who have left, others are trying to leave.

But thousands of them remain as dedicated as every to their prophet, Warren Jeffs, and they couldn't care less about the Justice Department investigation.

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