The FLDS food stamp fraud case ends with a whimper, as the State brokers a range of plea deals and dropped charges. Both sides are declaring victory in the highly publicized case. But there is still the small matter of fugitive from justice Lyle Jeffs, currently on the FBI's most wanted list.
For a case that began with FBI raids in the polygamous enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., it is ending quietly with nearly all of the defendants taking plea deals. Federal prosecutors have acknowledged an uphill battle if the case went to trial, where FLDS members were expected to claim a religious right to consecrate all they have to their church.
Defense attorneys have said the First Amendment religious freedom rights allows for FLDS members to live the "law of consecration," which includes communal living and giving of all they have. They also argued federal law is silent on whether SNAP benefits could be shared.
As he left the courthouse, Hyrum Dutson told reporters: "We won."
"It's like Vietnam. The government declared victory and got out and everyone's benefitted for it," said Aric Cramer, an attorney for Kristal Dutson. "It's a good deal."
Asked if he knew where Lyle Jeffs is, Hyrum Dutson replied: "It wouldn't matter if I did."