A polygamist Mormon sect based on the border between Utah and Arizona is facing charges that it committed federal food stamp fraud.
Eleven leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) were indicted on charges that they laundered money and conspired to commit fraud. The group is charged with running a lengthy scheme in which church leaders applied for and received millions of dollars in federal assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – informally called “food stamps.” The aid was allegedly diverted away from the people who were supposed to receive it and instead put toward FLDS activities.
The indicted group of leaders, which in 2011 began calling itself the “United Order,” allegedly used SNAP aid to purchase groceries and then turned those supplies over to a FLDS storehouse that distributed the food to numerous church members – including some who were not eligible for SNAP assistance.
Officials in Arizona and Utah told the Salt Lake Tribune that church leaders, who have made no secret of their anti-government sentiment, received $7.2 million in SNAP aid annually.
The case is United States of America v. Jeffs, et al.