After about two years of court battle, Lyle Jeffs, a former leader of a polygamous sect, has finally been sentenced to five-year prison for:
- Stealing from a food stamp scheme
- Escaping home confinement while awaiting trial
In the case, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints member was accused of withdrawing approximately $11 million from food stamp benefits.
The punishment requires Jeffs to:
- Serve a 57-month prison sentence
- Serve another 3-years of probation
- Payback $1 million
Why Did Lyle Jeffs Get a 5-Year Prison Sentence?
While issuing the judgment, the judge said that Jeffs deserve the punishment because:
- He showed no respect for the US laws
- He puts much of his allegiance to his imprisoned brother, Warren Jeffs (the sect’s former prophet), above everything else
The 5-year sentence is the maximum punishment that can be imposed. The prosecutors revealed that they gave him a maximum term so that they could send a warning message to other corrupt sect leaders.
However, Jeffs acknowledged his mistakes in the court saying that he humbly accept the responsibility for his actions and that he blames nobody.
About Lyle Jeff’s Fundamentalist Church Group
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a sect group based around Utah-Arizona border.
Its members believe that polygamy brings honor to Heaven. The 57-years old has been a lifelong member of the group.
The former sect members were disappointed to hear that their leader stole millions of dollars while the entire community starved.
However, his lawyer said that Jeffs’ food stamp fraud wasn’t malicious. Instead, it was motivated by the sect’s belief system. The members of the religious group believe that everybody should’ve food to eat.
The attorney added that his client had suffered a lot, citing that he has:
- Lost Job
- Lost Family
- Lost faith
- Been banned, by his brother, from entering their church
Lyle Jeffs’ Criminal Record
Jeffs was initially charged over the fraud case in 2016 (See Video Below), alongside ten other allegations. However, most the charges were dropped, and none led to jail time.
But Jeffs later worsened his legal issues when he took off an ankle monitoring gadget and became a fugitive in June 2016. He was free but under supervision.
Video: FBI surveillance video shows FLDS food stamp fraud scheme in action
The Future of Lyle Jeffs
He was eventually caught this summer in South Dakota while walking out of his vehicle. Those who saw him contacted the FBI. He pleaded guilty to committing the fraud and for failing to appear in court.
Jeffs’ brother, Warren Jeffs, is serving life in prison sentence for sexually assaulting girls he claimed to be his wives. Warren is also serving another 20 years in Texas for the same crime
Lyle Jeffs’ legally-known wife divorced him back in 2015. However, the 57-years-old is believed to have eight other ‘spiritual wives’ and about 60 children.
Thomas, Jeffs’ son who parted ways with the sect several years ago, stated after the ruling that he’s satisfied with his dad’s sentence.
Thomas also expressed hope that the five years term in prison would make his father think appropriately about things.
Several other relatives of the accused, including his brother, said that the sentence was too lenient for someone like Jeffs.