Court upholds sale of polygamous church assets

Associated Press Modified: November 5, 2012 at 7:16 pm •  Published: November 5, 2012

The United Effort Plan, established long ago by the church, is the charitable trust that holds real-estate and other assets in the border towns. Church members are allowed to live and work on the FLDS property, but some have lost everything in periodic purges by Jeffs.

Utah's decision to take control of the trust was backed by Arizona. After the mismanagement allegations and takeover, Jeffs and other FLDS leaders and some church members moved to a remote West Texas ranch. But authorities there raided the compound in 2008, bringing numerous child-bride charges against a string of leaders.

Jeffs, 56, is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two underage girls he considered his brides.

Monday's ruling means Wisan is free to redistribute FLDS assets that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has said are worth more than $100 million.

Wisan plans to sell the assets to residents of Hildale and Colorado City, who will become property owners for the first time.

Shurtleff said Monday he hopes to move quickly to fashion a settlement disposing of all community assets.

Utah officials plan to hold a town hall-style meeting Nov. 30 in St. George for church leaders and members or ex-members asserting rights of ownership.

Real-estate sales will raise cash to pay Wisan and his team $5.6 million in overdue legal expenses, which Shurtleff had been under pressure to pay.

"I instructed my team to help the fiduciary sell property," Shurtleff said. "There's some valuable property down there, and it's a good time to buy."

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