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Brother of Fugitive Sect Leader Sentenced

July 15, 2006|From the Associated Press

DENVER — The younger brother of a polygamist-sect leader was sentenced Friday to three years' probation for hampering the FBI search for his fugitive sibling.

Seth Steed Jeffs of Hildale, Utah, was fined $2,500 in addition to the probation. He had pleaded guilty to a federal charge of concealing a fugitive and faced a possible six-month prison sentence.

Prosecutor Phil Brimmer asked for a three-month prison term, saying it would serve as a better deterrent. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn, however, said he found Jeffs, 33, to be contrite and praised him for trying to remove himself from the sect.

"I must not and will not visit the sins of your fugitive brother on you," Blackburn said.

Jeffs was arrested Oct. 28 after a traffic stop in southern Colorado. During the stop, authorities found nearly $142,000 in cash, about $7,000 worth of prepaid debit and cellphone cards, and his brother's personal records.

His brother, Warren Jeffs, 50, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was indicted in June 2005 on an Arizona charge of arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a married man, and on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is also charged in Utah with two felony counts of rape as an accomplice, for allegedly arranging the marriage of a teenage girl to an older man in Nevada.

The FLDS Church, which embraces polygamy, split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when the mainstream Mormon Church disavowed plural marriage more than 100 years ago.

FBI agent Andrew Stearns testified that Seth Jeffs said after his arrest that he didn't know where the elder Jeffs was, but wouldn't reveal his whereabouts if he did.

In court, Seth Jeffs said, "I knew what I did was wrong as I was doing it, but I didn't realize the severity of what I was doing."

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