Lyle Jeffs to serve up to five years in prison after guilty plea

A Utah polygamous sect leader who spent a year on the run will serve up to five years in prison after pleading guilty in a food-stamp fraud case on Wednesday.

Lyle Jeffs, charged in the multimillion-dollar scheme as well as his escape from home confinement, entered the plea in federal court in Salt Lake City.

"We're not out to punish people of faith," U.S. Attorney John Huber told the Salt Lake Tribune. "We're not out to punish people with sincerely held beliefs. We're out to punish fraudsters."

Lyle Jeffs was one of 11 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints charged last year. He was awaiting trial when he slipped off his ankle monitor and escaped in June of 2016.

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Inside the compound of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs
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Inside the compound of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks through a large dining room at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S. May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks into an office at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Red rock cliffs rise above Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah, where the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) prophet leader Warren Jeffs lived and ran the church for many years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S. May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
A key hangs out of a lock on one of the 41 bedrooms at jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) prophet leader Warren Jeffs' compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) prophet leader Warren Jeffs, stands on a back porch at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S. May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks out the window of one of the 41 bedrooms at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks between the 11th and 12th bedroom at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S. May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks over a patio area at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks through one of two large kitchens at his compound in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks past an outdoor chimney marked with "Pray and Obey" at the compound where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks past an outdoor chimney marked with "Pray and Obey" at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks out the window of the prayer room where she prayed every hour on the hour with other wives of his, at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, enters his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., on May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, shows how she prayed every hour on the hour with other wives of his in the prayer room at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, opens a backdoor with an eviction notice on the window of his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks inside his bedroom at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Tumbleweeds and a no trespassing sign are seen outside the northwest entrance of FLDS Church's Prophet leaders Warren Jeff's compound where he lived for several years in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Two old couches sit outside the northwest entrance of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs' compound where he lived for several years in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who heads a breakaway Mormon sect, is pictured in this Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison mug shot, released to Reuters August 10,2011. Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison August 9 for sexually assaulting two underage girls he claimed as "spiritual" brides. The Texas jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for less than an hour before giving him a 99-year, or life, sentence for one charge and 20 years for a second -- the maximum for both. REUTERS/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW HEADSHOT IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
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He was recaptured in South Dakota this summer while apparently living out of his pickup truck. He had been struggling without the help of other sect members after falling out with sect leader and brother Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexual assault of underage brides.

Food-stamp benefits were funneled to pay for items including a tractor and a truck, according to prosecutors.

Lyle Jeffs is facing up to four years on a fraud count, plus one year in connection to his escape, according to the Tribune. He has also been ordered to pay $1 million.

"I don‘t think he has it, but if he does, we will find it," Huber told the Tribune.

The other defendants received plea deals or saw their charges dismissed.

The group is an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, which disavowed polygamy more than a century ago.

Jeffs will be sentenced in December.

With News Wire Services

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