Lyle Jeffs Faces 5 Years in Prison After Year on the Run

The polygamous sect leader pleads guilty in food stamp fraud case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 20, 2017 2:50 PM CDT
This Jan. 21, 2015 file photo, Lyle Jeffs leaves the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.   (Rick Bowmer)
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(Newser) – A polygamous sect leader recaptured after a year on the run has pleaded guilty in an escape and food-stamp fraud case. Lyle Jeffs pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Salt Lake City, the AP reports. He was charged in what prosecutors call a multimillion-dollar food-stamp fraud scheme as well as his escape from home confinement. Jeffs was awaiting trial in the food-stamp case when he slipped off his ankle monitor and escaped in June 2016. He was recaptured in South Dakota this summer after pawning two pairs of pliers while apparently living out of his pickup truck. Pawn-shop workers tipped off the FBI, and he was arrested in a lakeside area near the South Dakota-Nebraska border.

He had been in the area for about two weeks, running low on resources and struggling without the help of fellow sect members after falling out with his brother Warren Jeffs, who runs the group while serving a life sentence in Texas for sexual assault of underage brides, the FBI has said. Lyle Jeffs was one of 11 members of the polygamous group charged in the case in February 2016. Prosecutors said food-stamp benefits were funneled to pay for things like a tractor and a truck. Lyle Jeffs was the highest-ranking member of the group to face charges and was accused of orchestrating the scheme. A trial had been set for Oct. 23. Jeffs is facing between three and five years in prison at a sentencing hearing set for Dec. 13 after agreeing to the plea deal. (Read more Warren Jeffs stories.)

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