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Defendants in FLDS food-stamp case attend class as part of plea deal

Published April 18, 2017 6:05 pm

Courts • Plea agreement mandated getting instruction.
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Defendants who pleaded guilty in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints food-stamp fraud case have attended a class regarding the proper use of food stamp benefits, which was one of the few requirements of their plea deals.

Nine members of the polygamous FLDS Church — who were accused of diverting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits from recipients to their church — have completed the class, which fulfills part of a plea deal reached with federal prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees the food stamp program.

None of the accused FLDS members were ordered to serve any jail time or probation, and the attending the class completed their court-ordered obligations, according to U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch.



Seven FLDS members pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a misdemeanor count of aiding and abetting fraud involving SNAP, or food stamps, and two others pleaded guilty to a felony.

The defendants were accused of taking food purchased by SNAP recipients in the sect and giving the groceries to the bishop, who distributed as he saw fit.

None of the nine defendants who attended the class — which was taught by the U.S. Attorney's office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ­— were required to pay fines, but two connected businesses in Colorado City, Ariz., the Meadowayne Dairy Store and Vermillion Cliffs Produce, will no longer be able to accept SNAP benefits.

The defendants who completed the class are: John Wayman, 56; Seth Steed Jeffs, 42; Preston Yates Barlow, 41; Winford Johnson Barlow, 50; Kimball Dee Barlow, 41; Ruth Peine Barlow, 41; Kristal Meldrum Dutson, 55; Rulon Mormon Barlow, 45; and Hyrum Bygnal Dutson, 55.

The case against another FLDS member, Nephi Allred, was dismissed at the prosecutors' request.

Meanwhile, Lyle Jeffs, a former FLDS bishop and the brother of imprisoned FLDS President Warren Jeffs, remains at large.

He is the only defendant remaining who has been charged with a felony count of attempting to defraud SNAP and a felony count of attempting to launder money. He fled home confinement in June.

tfrandsen@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tiffany_mf

 

 

 

 

 

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