WASHINGTON COUNTY – A seventh member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been taken into police custody Thursday for his alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud and money laundering scheme.
Nephi Steed Allred, of Colorado City, Arizona, surrendered himself to authorities two days after local, state and federal law enforcement converged upon the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, traditionally known as Short Creek, in actions related to a two-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court, District of Utah, Tuesday afternoon.
The indictment charges 11 leaders and members of the FLDS polygamous sect with conspiracy to commit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The indictment alleges Allred was a member of the FLDS church and a participant in the “United Order,” a ranking within the church instituted in 2011 by FLDS leaders. Participation in the United Order purports to constitute the highest level of worthiness and spiritual preparedness in the church. Devout FLDS members aspire to eligibility in the United Order.
Allred allegedly participated at meetings in which FLDS leaders directed members to fraudulently divert their SNAP benefits to the FLDS Storehouse.
“In order to conceal and disguise the involvement of the FLDS Storehouse, he orchestrated the organization of Quality Wholesale Distributors,” according to the indictment. “Thereafter, knowing that the activity of the business facilitated the unlawful diversion of SNAP funds to the FLDS church, he served as the general manager of Quality and supervised the daily operations of the business.”
Allred also possessed signatory authority for a bank account corresponding to Quality, according to the indictment.
Allred is scheduled to make his initial court appearance in federal court in St. George Friday at 2 p.m.
Also charged in the indictment are Lyle Steed Jeffs, 56, John Clifton Wayman, 56, Kimball Dee Barlow, 51, Winford Johnson Barlow, 50, Rulon Mormon Barlow, 45, Ruth Peine Barlow, 41, and Preston Yates Barlow, 41, all of Hildale; Seth Steed Jeffs, 42, of Custer, South Dakota; and Hyrum Bygnal Dutson, 55, and Kristal Meldrum Dutson, 55, all of Colorado City.
Ruth Barlow, Kristal Dutson and Winford Barlow were subsequently arrested Tuesday when FBI agents and members of local law enforcement raided businesses in Short Creek and combed neighborhoods looking for those named in the indictment.
The three were booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility and made an initial appearance in federal court Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Robert T. Braithwaite in St. George.
Braithwaite said all three defendants may be released on bail as early as Wednesday if both sides could agree to terms of pretrial release.
Aric Cramer, Kristal Dutson’s court-appointed defense attorney, said Thursday afternoon that Ruth Barlow, Kristal Dutson and Winford Barlow had been released from custody on standard pretrial terms, plus a few special terms including travel restrictions and wearing an ankle monitor.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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