ST. GEORGE — A food stamp fraud trial for 11 members of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been delayed until Oct. 3.
The trial had been scheduled to begin May 31, but U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart Monday granted the U.S. Attorney for Utah’s motion to delay the trial until October.
Federal prosecutors argued that there was too much evidence for either prosecutors or defendants to be prepared for the May trial to begin. Some of that evidence gathered by the federal government still has yet to be handed over to defense attorneys.
“This is a complex case,” Stewart wrote in his order. “This case involves the prosecution of a large number of defendants and involves an enormous amount of discovery.”
The FBI and other agencies have gathered more than 50 terabytes of evidence regarding the case to be heard at trial, according to federal prosecutors.
The food stamp fraud investigation began nearly two years before the indictments were issued in February against the 11 defendants, who prosecutors argue cost taxpayers more than $12 million after FLDS leaders allegedly ordered members to hand over food stamp benefits.
The 11 defendants were each indicted with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud through the food stamp program and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
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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