Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The False Prophet: Warren Jeffs

Charges and Extradition

Warren Jeffs
Warren Jeffs

Soon after his arrest, the man who believed he would never be caught because he was protected by God was detained in Nevada's Clark County jail. He faced charges in Nevada and Arizona for fraud, sexual abuse, polygamy, arranging marriages between under-aged girls and older men and federal charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. In Utah, he was charged with the more serious crime of sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, which could be punishable by up to life in prison.

On August 31, 2006 in a Las Vegas courtroom, a judge decided during a three-minute hearing that Warren would be extradited to Utah to face charges there before facing those in Nevada and Arizona. Shackled and looking defeated, Warren agreed not to fight the judge's decision. Five days later, he was on his way to Utah, where he was to be held throughout his trial in a correctional facility ironically named Purgatory.

Tara Isaacson
Tara Isaacson

In the interim, Warren hired Salt Lake City attorneys Walter Bugden and Tara Isaacson to represent him, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. His defense team has since filed a motion with the U.S. District Court to have documents seized from Warren at the time of his arrest returned to him. The items include, "religious books and writings, letters, two computers, dictating and recording devices and more than $50,000 in cash," according to the report. The documents were of special interest because they were considered by his attorneys to be "sacred," constituting "privileged communication between the spiritual leader and followers" of the FLDS church, the Associated Press reported.

Walter Bugden
Walter Bugden

As Warren's lawyers squabbled for documents and money, a Utah judge formally ordered a state takeover of the FLDS community trust totaling $100 million. Warren's name and those of five other FLDS trustees were stricken from the trust to prevent further mismanagement and siphoning of monies to fund Warren's mounting legal bills. It is feared that Warren will try to further exploit his ever-faithful followers as he faces numerous trials. Despite his transgressions, many remain true to their "prophet" whom they believe is above "earthly courts." In their eyes, he has done no wrong.

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