Feb 6, 2013

Could FLDS Stronghold Be Auctioned Off?

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

The two major US strongholds of Warren Jeffs's FLDS, where what remains of his loyal following attempt to follow his increasingly bizarre edicts from prison, are under fire from state authorities. Texas is moving against the Yearning For Zion Ranch, where Jeffs conducted the criminal enterprise that landed him in prison -- trading in young, female flesh. The FLDS community in the sister cities of Hilldale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona is under criminal investigation for, well, trading in young, female flesh. That one of those young females recently escaped the clutches of forced marriage -- and worse --  can't help them. Now comes word that FLDS owes millions in back taxes on its properties in those sister cities. In Utah, they're now delinquent over five years, which could trigger an auction.

Years of legal battles over a large polygamous property trust have counties on the Utah/Arizona border helpless to collect back property taxes until the trust is dissolved.

“I think it’s too convoluted at this point,” said David Whitehead, treasurer for Washington County, Utah. “It’s hard to collect the taxes.”

Properties owned by the United Effort Plan trust owe over $4 million in back property taxes to Utah and Arizona.

“The Utah taxes have reached their critical point,” said Jethro Barlow, CPA, who provides accounting services for the trust. “Every property has some delinquent tax.”

Utah seized the trust in 2005, on the grounds that it was being mismanaged, but their intended liquidation of assets has been tied up in legal battles ever since. Now, it's racked up $6 million in legal and accounting fees. Turns out imploding cults are expensive.

Utah has agreed to hold off on putting what's left of its FLDS footprint on the auction block, for now. Developing...

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