Mormon polygamy sect leaders arrested over fraud allegations
Eleven members of a polygamist Mormon sect have been arrested in the US on suspicion of food stamp fraud and money laundering.
The suspects, including several senior members of the sect, were detained in the states of Utah and South Dakota.
Prosecutors allege that they diverted funds from Utah”s food aid programme.
In 2011 the sect”s leader Warren Jeffs received a life sentence for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides.
The head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), an offshoot from the mainstream Mormon church, was handed the maximum sentence possible.
What is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?
Police said the arrests were made in Hildale, Salt Lake City and Custer County.
Among the suspects was Warren Jeffs” brother, Lyle, who is believed to be running the sect”s day-to-day operations.
“This indictment is not about religion. This indictment is about fraud,” US Attorney John Huber said.
“This indictment charges a sophisticated group of individuals operating in the Hildale-Colorado City community who conspired to defraud a programme intended to help low-income individuals and families purchase food.”
The FLDS is believed to have about up to 10,000 members.
It split from the mainstream Mormon church more than a century ago mainly because the church suspended the practice of polygamy.