Judge Recuses Himself in Polygamist Sect's Trust Case

Judge Recuses Himself in Polygamist Sect's Trust Case

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Third District Court Judge Constandinos Himonas recused himself from a case involving the United Effort Plan Trust, the financial arm of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

A hearing had been set for July 21 to appoint new trustees for the UEP. Last month, 3rd District Judge Glenn Iwasaki permanently removed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and five other church leaders from the trust.

The state stepped in last month and had the assets frozen and temporary control given to an outside firm because it was feared Jeffs was liquidating the assets. Jeffs is a fugitive who is charged in Arizona with conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.

Utah and Arizona authorities have been cracking down on polygamist plural marriages to underage girls.

The July 21 hearing may need to be postponed, said Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah Attorney General's office.

Himonas recused himself after a petition was filed Friday by the law firm of Christensen and Jensen requesting the appointment of outgoing Dixie State College President Robert Huddleston, certified public accountant Gregory Kemp and Dr. Craig Booth as new trustees.

The three are represented by the law firm of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook and McDonough, which once employed Himonas.

"The hearing date and time may be changed and we want to make sure people know when that is if they want to be involved, but other than that, we have no real concerns," Murphy said.

Tim Anderson of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook and McDonough said Huddleston, Kemp and Booth had not asked to be named trustees.

"My clients have simply been asked by petitioners to act as trustees," Anderson said.

The petitioners were Donald B. Cox, 69, and James M Pipkin, 60, both of Hildale, which with adjacent Colorado City, Ariz., is where most FLDS members live.

The petition states that Cox and Pipkin reside in Hildale in homes they built on UEP land and that Cox also helped buy a large parcel of land in Hildale that is now owned by the UEP. Neither is a member of the FLDS church.

Kemp's accounting firm, Kemp, Burdick, Hinton and Hall, handles the yearly audits for Hildale and Colorado City.

Since the UEP was formed in the 1940s, members of the FLDS church have contributed to the fund. No one knows for sure how much the trust holdings are worth, but Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has estimated that the trust may be valued at about $100 million.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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