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Phoenix • She hadn't met Lyle Jeffs until she was about to marry him.

Once Charlene Wall married him, they had, she testified Wednesday, "a wonderful life together."

"Being in the FLDS was not what it is now," said Charlene Wall Jeffs, as she introduced herself to a Phoenix courtroom from the witness stand Wednesday.

She has since divorced Lyle Jeffs, the man running the day-to-day operations of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The U.S. Justice Department called Charlene Jeffs as a witness in its discrimination lawsuit against the towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., collectively known as Short Creek. The Justice Department alleges the two municipal governments collude with the church to discriminate against people who are not FLDS.

While a few wives have testified in proceedings against the FLDS through the years — including two of Charlene Jeffs' half-sisters — Charlene Jeffs may be the first who was legally married to someone so high in the FLDS hierarchy.

George M. Barlow">Lyle Jeffs is believed to have eight other spiritual wives.

Charlene Jeffs, 50, told the jury that her parents joined the FLDS when she was 2 years old and that she grew up in the Salt Lake Valley.

"It was really good, growing up," she said of the FLDS. "It was all about family, about love."

FLDS members were taught that if the government apprehended them, they should agree with their captor until their release, she said. Then they could resume how they were living before.

Justice Department attorney Sean Keveney asked her whether that mean it was OK to lie to the government.

"I wouldn't say a flat, black lie," Charlene Jeffs said, "but a white one, yes."

Her marriage at age 18 to Lyle Jeffs was arranged. The couple went on to have 10 children. They lived in the Salt Lake Valley until 2001, when the faithful were ordered by her father-in-law, then-FLDS President Rulon Jeffs, to move to Short Creek. Rulon Jeffs and his son Warren told the people that the 2002 Winter Olympics would bring about a rapture in the Salt Lake Valley.

Rulon Jeffs died in 2002, and Warren Jeffs ascended to FLDS prophet. That is when things began to change, Charlene Jeffs testified. Warren Jeffs eventually banned sex between spouses and said men and women should be separated.

When Warren Jeffs was a federal fugitive in 2005, Charlene Jeffs helped account for money the faithful were donating to him and the church. She would enter the offerings into a spreadsheet program.

The offerings she recorded included those from Hildale and Colorado City marshals and from town officials, she testified. She said she also saw cash being inspected for sequential serial numbers.

Such bills were put aside, and

George M. Barlow">Lyle Jeffs would take them to a casino, buy chips, remain there an hour and then cash out, Charlene Jeffs testified.

In 2010, Warren Jeffs, from jail cells in Texas, created the United Order, an elite subset of the FLDS. People in the United Order had to take an oath to not discuss it and could not live or speak with people who didn't qualify.

Charlene Jeffs said she was exiled in 2012, though she didn't say why. She was sent to live alone in a trailer in Short Creek.

She began to cry when she recalled running into her own children. They said they couldn't speak to her without losing their United Order memberships.

Charlene Jeffs said that, during her exile, she saw church security following her. One of those who did so was Philip Barlow, Hildale's current mayor, she said.

When a 12-year-old boy vandalized her trailer, Charlene Jeffs told the jury, she called the bishop's office. David Darger, the Colorado City town manager, answered and told her that Lyle Jeffs said to handle it herself, she testified.

The boy's father was Daniel Roy Barlow, she said. When she threatened to call the marshals, she said Barlow smiled and said that was his "new assignment." Barlow is currently a deputy marshal.

She also described how she was present when Lyle Jeffs was addressing a group of men about how the government was pursuing Short Creek marshals for having multiple wives. A man named Curtis Cooke was standing there. Charlene Jeffs said her husband asked Cooke how many wives he had.

Cooke said one.

"And Lyle said, 'Well, why don't you become an officer? We could use you,' " Charlene Jeffs testified.

A suggestion from church leaders is supposed to be taken as an order, she explained.

She left the Short Creek community Oct. 11, 2014, and filed for divorce the following spring. Her two youngest children were juveniles at the time.

At an April 20 custody hearing in St. George, Cooke arrived and told Charlene Jeffs the church had sent him, she testified. Cooke said she should have notified the marshals before trying to serve court papers in the custody case.

Charlene Jeffs testified that she told Cooke that if she had called the marshals, her children would have disappeared. Cooke nodded his head, she said. Charlene Jeffs and her husband reached a custody agreement in which the two children live with her. The couple's divorce was finalized last month.

Under cross-examination from Colorado City attorney Jeff Matura, Charlene Jeffs acknowledged that Cooke was helpful during the custody case and that another marshal, Hyrum Roundy, was later helpful when she arrived at the marshals office with a camera crew from ABC's "20/20."

She also told Matura she doesn't know whether money specifically donated to the church aided in Warren Jeffs' absconding, but she added: "If Warren needed money, Warren got money."

Charlene Jeffs testified for about 80 minutes. One of her half-sisters, Elissa Wall, was once known as "MJ." She was married at age 14 to a cousin and later testified against Warren Jeffs when a St. George jury convicted him in 2007 of rape as an accomplice. The Utah Supreme Court later overturned that conviction.

Another of Charlene Jeffs' half-sisters, Rebecca Musser, was a plural wife of Rulon Jeffs. Musser went on to testify as an expert on FLDS records in the Texas trial of Warren Jeffs and nine other men. Warren Jeffs was convicted of crimes related to the sexual abuse of underage girls he married and is serving a life sentence.

Twitter: @natecarlisle