ST. GEORGE Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs is now at the Utah State Prison, where he will begin serving his 10-years-to-life sentence for rape as an accomplice.
The polygamous sect leader was quietly and quickly escorted from his sentencing at the 5th District Courthouse late Tuesday to a Utah Department of Public Safety airplane waiting for him at the St. George Airport.
"We were able to get him changed out of his suit into prison clothes, moved him up to the airport, put him on a fixed-wing aircraft and flew him out," Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith told the Deseret Morning News on Wednesday.
Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, state corrections officials said, Jeffs was driven to the Utah State Prison. Authorities described the FLDS leader's mood as "down."
For the next several weeks, Jeffs will undergo an orientation process in prison that will determine what type of inmate he will be classified as, as well as where he will be housed. The Utah Department of Corrections has said Jeffs likely will be housed in maximum security.
"It will help maintain his security and safety," deputy corrections director Mike Haddon said Wednesday.
Housing Jeffs was a challenge at Washington County's Purgatory Jail, not only because of the FLDS leader's high-profile status as one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted, but also because of Jeffs' followers, detractors and the throngs of news media that covered the story.
"It's very labor-intensive," Washington County Sheriff's Lt. Jake Adams said Wednesday. "Just taking the extra precautions, the added security measures that are necessary, particularly in transporting a person like that back and forth to court."
The sheriff's office said that through great interagency cooperation, it was able to pull off the high levels of security for the FLDS leader.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office submitted a $56,000 bill to have Jeffs pay for some of the costs of providing security. The St. George Police Department submitted a similar bill for $55,000.
"Our SWAT team is on call. We use an incident command center," St. George Police Sgt. Craig Harding said Tuesday.
Outside Jeffs' many court hearings, sharpshooters were seen on the red-rock hillsides, and extra deputies always surrounded the FLDS leader. However, the judge who sentenced Jeffs said his restitution should not have to cover the extra security.
"We owe an obligation to the taxpayers to try and recover that cost," Smith said.
The sheriff said he is now considering suing Jeffs to recover some of those costs.
"He had a lot of money on him, so that's got to go somewhere," Smith said. "It could just as well go to the taxpayers of Washington County as it could into his commissary account. We're exploring our options."
Jeffs, 51, was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of five-years-to-life in prison for rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony. The polygamist leader performed a marriage between a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin. His attorneys have vowed to appeal the conviction and said they will file papers within the next week seeking a new trial.
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