'Polygamy czar' quits to take crime lab helm

He's second to hold title since job was created in 2000

Published: Thursday, Nov. 2 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

His official job title is "investigator of crimes within closed societies" for the Utah Attorney General's Office.

In polygamous circles, he is known as "the polygamy czar."

Jim Hill told the Deseret Morning News he has resigned from the czar's job to manage the crime lab and evidence room for the Salt Lake City Police Department.

"The opportunity presented itself," Hill said.

He previously worked for Salt Lake City police for more than 26 years before going to the Utah Attorney General's Office.

Hill is the second person to take the polygamy investigator's position since it was created in 2000. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said the investigator would look at crimes being committed within closed societies, including tax evasion, welfare fraud, child abuse, sex abuse, domestic violence and other crimes.

Ron Barton, the first investigator, left in 2004. He was instrumental in building criminal cases against polygamists, most notably the convictions of Tom Green and Rodney Holm. Barton was often criticized and called a "nuisance" by many polygamists and pro-polygamy activists.

Hill has been more quiet, but anti-polygamy activists insisted he has been equally effective.

"I think he did a real good job," said Rowenna Erickson with the group Tapestry Against Polygamy. "He worked long and hard on this job and he was very polite and cordial to any of us that he spoke to."

Hill described his stint in the polygamy investigator job as interesting and "certainly educational."

"There are some good people involved in that lifestyle," he said, "and people I don't think are so good."

Bill Morrison, a lawyer representing members of the Kingston polygamous group, said Hill has a solid reputation as a "straight shooter." Hill recently began focusing on the Kingstons, putting them on notice that they were the subject of a criminal investigation. Law enforcement refuses to discuss the case, but sources have told the Deseret Morning News it ranges from financial crimes to allegations of incest and intermarriage.

Anti-polygamy activists worry about a lag time in crucial investigations with Hill's departure.

"Each person that comes into this role, they have to start from scratch and learn about polygamy and we have the task of teaching them," Erickson said.

Hill said he will still contribute his expertise to the attorney general's office while they find a replacement, working part-time and maintaining his reserve officer status.

Morrison said the Kingstons are still waiting to see what the Utah Attorney General's Office does with its investigation.

"No warrants have been served, no subpoena authority has been exercised, we're just kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop," he said. "Maybe everyone's waiting for the election to get over with, too."


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com

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