SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge has rejected high-ranking polygamous leader Lyle Jeffs' request to be released from jail pending trial on accusations he helped orchestrate a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme.
U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart issued a written ruling Thursday that makes Jeffs the only defendant still behind bars among 11 people indicted on charges of diverting at least $12 million worth of federal benefits.
Prosecutors say Jeffs runs the day-to-day operations of the sect on the Utah-Arizona border.
Stewart sided with prosecutors, saying he didn't think any conditions of release would assure Jeffs would appear at future court hearings because he follows the orders of his brother, imprisoned sect leader Warren Jeffs.
Lyle Jeffs' attorney argued in a hearing Wednesday that he was being treated unfairly due to his religious beliefs.