Lyle Jeffs living out of auto when caught

Lyle Jeffs living out of auto when caught

Federal authorities say polygamist religious leader Lyle Jeffs has been captured, nearly exactly one year after he escaped from home confinement while he was accused in a multimillion-dollar food-stamp fraud scheme.

Jeffs, who had been on the run from authorities for nearly a year, did not resist arrest late Wednesday and is being held in Minnehaha County Jail in South Dakota.

He fled house arrest a year ago while awaiting trial with other sect leaders for alleged food stamp fraud and money laundering.

Jeffs' sect, known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has a compound in Pringle, South Dakota. A falling out with his brother Warren Jeffs, who runs the sect while serving a life prison sentence in Texas for sexual assault of underage brides, led to the lack of support, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has said. He was being held without bond on a Federal Marshals Service hold in South Dakota's Minnehaha County, according to booking records.

At the time of Lyle Jeffs' arrest, prosecutors and one of the man's estranged sons said they believed the FLDS leader would run if released, using the same plans and resources believed to have kept Warren Jeffs out of the reach of the law in 2006.

Lyle Jeffs was released June 9, 2016, after his attorney argued it would violate her client's rights to keep him in custody until a monthlong trial scheduled later that year. He slipped out of an ankle monitor and has been on the run ever since.

The FLDS is believed to have about up to 10,000 members. FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart in Salt Lake City says that identified the FLDS leader. Jeffs, he said, handed over his actual ID and filled out the form to complete the deal. Haug said if he gets a reward, he would take a vacation.

In a federal court appearance Thursday in Sioux Falls, Jeffs waived a detention hearing until he returns to Utah in coming days to face the pending food stamp fraud charges, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah.

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"It's a serious offense to flee justice and we do not take it lightly".

The FBI said Lyle Jeffs was in touch with his imprisoned brother after he escaped from house arrest, but intercepted messages between the brothers also suggested Lyle had been removed from his position of bishop soon after he escaped. "I don't know how he does it, but he's really perceptive", Haug said. The money was then diverted to front companies and used to pay thousands for a tractor, truck and other items, prosecutors say.

The defendants denied wrongdoing and said they were just sharing food as part of their communal living practices.

Nine of the people arrested alongside Lyle Jeffs have since accepted plea deals, and one person had his charges dismissed. Known to the faithful as "R23", the compound sits along a gravel road, secluded by tall pine trees, a privacy fence and a guard tower. "They feel god protected them".

Jeffs' 11 co-defendants resolved their cases by pleading guilty to felony or misdemeanor charges.

Nord reported from Pierre, South Dakota.

A detailed 2016 profile in the Salt Lake City Tribune portrayed Lyle Jeffs as a braggart with a temper, who enforced the rules at the FLDS compound with little mercy.

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