The Latest: Judge to weigh request to free polygamous leader

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2016 12:57 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Latest on polygamous leader Lyle Jeffs' attempt to get released from jail (all times local):

11 a.m.

High-ranking polygamous leader Lyle Jeffs will have to wait to find out if he can leave jail pending trial on accusations he helped orchestrate a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart said at a hearing Wednesday that he would consider the request. Federal public defender Kathryn Nester had argued that Jeffs is being treated unfairly because of his religious beliefs.

Prosecutor Robert Lund said Jeffs can't be trusted because he is openly defiant of civil law, citing polygamous practices that include underage brides.

Jeffs, who runs the day-to-day operations of the polygamous sect on the Utah-Arizona border, is the last suspect still behind bars after 11 people were indicted on charges of diverting at least $12 million worth of federal benefits.

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2:55 a.m.

Attorneys for high-ranking polygamous leader Lyle Jeffs are seeking his release from jail pending trial on accusations he helped orchestrate a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme.

Jeffs, who runs the day-to-day operations of the polygamous sect on the Utah-Arizona border, is the last remaining suspect still behind bars among 11 people indicted on allegations of diverting at least $12 million worth of federal benefits.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart, who will preside over a hearing on the request Wednesday, has recently allowed the three other alleged ringleaders of the operation out of jail. Stewart's rulings reversed previous decisions by a different magistrate judge who agreed with prosecutors that they were a flight risk.

Jeffs' attorneys contend he cares too much about his followers to flee, while prosecutors argue he could try to elude authorities.