The trust that owns much of the real estate in two polygamous towns on the Utah-Arizona line has awarded another batch of homes, including one that is going to a man charged with practicing polygamy in Canada.
Winston Blackmore will receive a house on Jessop Avenue in Hildale, Utah, though Blackmore is a longtime resident of Creston, British Columbia.
A state court judge in Salt Lake City awarded houses to Blackmore and 18 other people in an order issued Nov. 6. Blackmore did not respond to an interview request made through his attorney.
Blackmore is the former Creston bishop for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He also is a beneficiary of the United Effort Plan (UEP), the trust that owns property in British Columbia as well as Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz.
Blackmore, 59, lives in Canada, but he has family in Hildale. While those family members presumably could have applied for a home, Blackmore filed the petition instead and 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg awarded the house to him, according to court records.
The UEP's board of trustees voted 5-0 to award Blackmore the house once he paid $4,639 in fees and closing costs, court records show.
The ranch-style house sits on 0.71 acre and has a market value of $74,000, according to the Washington County Assessor's Office. It was built in 1970 and has 2,191 square feet.
Don Timpson, chairman of the UEP board, declined to discuss the contents of Blackmore's petition. Timpson said Blackmore followed the same process as other people who have received homes.
Applicants complete a petition that specifies why they are beneficiaries, and describes their housing needs and any connection to particular homes. The advisory board then reviews the petition, Timpson said, and interviews the applicant.
"We want to get to know what their situation is," Timpson said.
Another UEP board member, Arnold Richter, said the Canadian and U.S. branches of the FLDS have contributed work and resources toward each other's communities and married into each other's families, giving each a stake in UEP assets on both sides of border.
"It's not like there's a clear-cut line between Canadians and the Americans," Richter said.
Timpson declined to discuss Blackmore's situation, except to tell a Salt Lake Tribune reporter: "As you well know, because you've probably reported it, he has a very large family."
Blackmore is charged in a British Columbia court with one count of polygamy, for which he faces up to five years in prison. Court records accuse him of taking 24 wives through the decades.
In a deposition in 2014, he admitted to marrying a 15-year-old girl whose parents consented to the marriage. Blackmore said he was pretty sure the wedding happened in Utah in 2001 or 2002. The Utah attorney general's office has investigated, but no charges have ever been filed.
"Mr. Blackmore's legal issues have no effect upon his petition," Timpson said.
Kristyn Decker, a former plural wife who founded the Sound Choices Coalition, which opposes polygamy, said in an email to The Tribune: "Though we are disheartened that those who broke laws and continue to break laws continue to get awarded while doing so, we are grateful that Hilldale and Colorado City are becoming more diverse, and that many more people are discovering the truth and leaving."
FLDS President Warren Jeffs excommunicated Blackmore in 2002. Utah seized the UEP in 2005 out of concern that Jeffs was mismanaging it. Lindberg appointed a fiduciary and a board to advise it, though the judge is the one who approves the sale or transfer of all land.
To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.