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The Utah attorney general's office is suing the water provider for polygamous towns on the Utah-Arizona border and asking that the utility be dissolved.
It's the latest move against Twin City Water Works, Inc., the nonprofit corporation that provides water to Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. The United Effort Plan, the polygamous trust operated by the state of Utah, already has asked a judge to place the utility into receivership.
One attorney for the United Effort Plan has called the utility a "slush fund" benefiting the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The U.S. Department of Justice has scrutinized Twin City Water, too. In a civil rights lawsuit filed in Phoenix against Hildale and Colorado City, a Justice Department accountant's report says $1.7 million of Twin City Water proceeds were diverted to the FLDS and its members from 2004 through 2013.
That accountant's report was cited in the Attorney General lawsuit filed this week in state court in St. George. The lawsuit also cited depositions given in the last few months by officers of Twin City Water.
In the depositions, according to court documents, Twin City Water's president admitted he is not qualified for the job, does not know about the utility's finances and has never viewed its financial reports. A manager testified he did not know the names of any of Twin City Water's employees.
Attorneys for Twin City Water did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. In previous proceedings, attorneys have offered statements from the utility's bookkeeper, who has said there have been no payments to the FLDS Church since she came on the job in 2013 and that Twin City Water is paying its bills.
The attorney general says there is little evidence the utility has put money into maintaining and improving its infrastructure.
"There has clearly been money going into TCWW," assistant attorney general Joni Jones said Thursday. "That is well documented. And yet there has been no improvement in the water systems."
The attorney general's lawsuit is asking a judge to dissolve Twin City Water and appoint a receiver to manage it until a water distribution system can be established. Jones said Hildale and Colorado City town governments already are responsible for much of the water distribution and should be able to take over the other operations of the utility without the spigots ever having to shut off.
In its lawsuit against Twin City Water filed earlier this year, the United Effort Plan accused the utility of pumping water belonging to the trust without paying for it. Twin City Water has claimed it has leases for the water, but the United Effort Plan and the attorney general says there's no evidence of any such leases.
In the federal lawsuit in Phoenix, a judge ruled Tuesday that the accountant who examined Twin City Water finances could not testify in that case. Twin City Water is not a party in that lawsuit and attorneys for the towns argued the accountant's testimony would be irrelevant.
No trial dates have been set for either the federal or Utah lawsuits.