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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A federal magistrate has declared James "Flaming Eagle" Mooney a danger to the community and has ordered the Utah County man held in jail pending his trial on charges of illegal possession and distribution of peyote.
U.S. Magistrate Samuel Alba allowed Mooney's wife, Linda Mooney, 51, to be released from jail pending the trial.
A third defendant, Nicholas Stark, 54, of Ogden, was not arrested and has been issued a summons in the case.
Alba handed down his decision Tuesday after hearing testimony that Mooney, 61, allegedly continued to obtain peyote for his Oklevueha Earthwalks Native American Church after his 2000 arrest on state drug charges -- which eventually were overturned by the Utah Supreme Court.
In addition, several witnesses said James Mooney had threatened them for cooperating in an investigation of whether the Moneys had the legal right to use the substance.
Peyote can be used legally only by members of the Native American Church. James Mooney obtained a membership card in 1997 to the Oklevueha Band of Yamassee Seminole Indians, which is a tribe that is not federally recognized and one that traditionally does not use peyote. The tribe revoked the card a few months later, but Mooney allegedly continued to use it to get peyote.
In a 2000 raid, police seized 12,000 peyote buttons from the church in Benjamin. The Mooneys were charged with drug felonies. Those charges were dropped in 2004 after the Utah Supreme Court ruled that church members, regardless of race, can use peyote.
Federal authorities contend that only church members who are members of federally recognized tribes may use the drug.
At the hearing Tuesday, Jim Pritchard said Mooney suspected him of being a confidential informant. Pritchard, who with an associate conducted American Indians ceremonies for state prison inmates, testified that Mooney called his associate and said he should tell the prisoners "to get rid of me." His associate did not comply.
Terri Holland, a former employee of Mooney's church, said Mooney accused her of lying to investigators and said there could be serious repercussion. Her former boss said he wouldn't sue her if she made a five-minute video saying she had been manipulated into testifying against Mooney, she said. She refused.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)