FLDS Leader Removed from Church Trust

FLDS Leader Removed from Church Trust

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A judge on Wednesday stripped reclusive polygamist Warren Jeffs and five other church leaders as managers of a trust held by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Neither Jeffs, nor trustees Truman Barlow, LeRoy Jeffs, William E. Jessop (aka William Timpson), or James Zitting appeared in Third District Court on Wednesday to object to their removal.

Trustee Winston Blackmore, who runs an offshoot of the FLDS church in Bountiful, Canada, was present, but says he doesn't object to a change in trustees, which hold sway over trust which Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has said could hold as much as $100 million.

The court order signed by Judge Glenn Iwasaki on Wednesday permanently removes all six men as trustees and prevents them from managing any aspect of the United Effort Plan Trust, including liquidating its assets.

A hearing was scheduled July 21 to appoint new trustees.

Eight people -- most of whom were once members of the FLDS church -- are being nominated as new trustees, although in its current form, only five members can be selected.

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 was indicted in Mohave County, Ariz., earlier this month on sex-related charges for allegedly arranging a marriage between a teenage girl and a 28-year-old man who already was married. Jeffs remains a fugitive.

Utah officials also are looking for Jeffs so they can serve him papers related to lawsuits filed against him. The church has been under close scrutiny amid allegations of welfare fraud, sexual abuse and forced marriages.

The church, which teaches polygamy as its central tenet, is based in the twin border towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., where about 10,000 church members live.

Jeffs has not been seen in a year, and is believed to be living on church-owned land in Texas, where members are building the church's first temple.

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

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