SAN ANGELO, Texas Subpoenas have been served on authorities here demanding documents related to the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch and how it was purchased.
The man appointed by the courts to take charge of the FLDS Church's real-estate holdings arm wants to see records seized by law enforcement during the raid on the compound. Bruce Wisan, the special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan Trust, had his lawyers serve subpoenas on the Tom Green County District Attorney's Office.
"Please produce all documents or tangible objects that mention or relate to possession or ownership of the structure referred to as 'The Temple,' located on the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas," one subpoena said. "Please produce all documents or tangible objects that mention or relate to the funding used to acquire the YFZ Ranch located in Schleicher County, Texas."
The subpoenas also demand documents and tangible objects that mention the UEP Trust, its trustees, Wisan, several FLDS corporate entities, leaders Warren Jeffs, James Zitting, Leroy Jeffs and Truman Barlow.
The subpoenas were buried in exhibits for a quarterly report submitted to a judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court overseeing the UEP Trust. The report (about the size of a Salt Lake City Yellow Pages phone book) was filed earlier this month. There has been no reply from Texas officials.
Wisan said the documents are believed to be relevant to the UEP Trust's management and collecting on an $8.8 million default judgment against Warren Jeffs and the FLDS Church, accusing them of mismanaging the trust.
"The fiduciary next intends to pursue discovery to determine whether any of the judgment debtors own property in Texas which may be available for the satisfaction of the judgment," Wisan wrote.
Law enforcement in Utah and Arizona also hope to see the evidence seized by Texas authorities, but attorneys for the FLDS Church have filed court papers seeking to quash the search warrants.
Last month's raid on the YFZ Ranch was prompted by a phone call from someone claiming to be a 16-year-old girl who was pregnant and in an abusive marriage to a 49-year-old man. When authorities responded, child-welfare workers said they saw other signs of abuse and a judge ordered all of the children removed from the FLDS compound. To date, 465 people are in state protective custody.
In 2005, a judge took control of the UEP Trust, freezing its assets after allegations by state authorities that FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and other trustees had mismanaged it. The trust, with an estimated $110 million in assets, controls homes, businesses and properties within the FLDS enclaves of Hildale, Utah; Colorado City, Ariz.; and Bountiful, B.C., Canada.
The UEP is based on the early LDS concept of a "united order," in which everything is given to the church and it is doled out to members according to wants and needs. The courts recently enacted reforms, paving the way for private-property ownership.
Subdividing the property remains a struggle, Wisan wrote. Lawsuits are pending in efforts to record the properties.
Since the raid on the YFZ Ranch, Wisan said that those living in Hildale and Colorado City have had an abrupt change of position and have begun signing occupancy agreements for the UEP homes. As of April 30, 464 people have signed agreements to live in the homes and pay $100 a month fees for infrastructure improvements within the communities.
"The fiduciary is informed that FLDS leadership have instructed their followers to sign occupancy agreements and pay assessment fees," Wisan wrote, adding that some FLDS faithful are becoming more cooperative although there has been no change of attitude on the part of FLDS leaders.
Numerous lawsuits against the trust are pending, including one filed by Elissa Wall, the star witness in Washington County's criminal case against Warren Jeffs and another by two Iron County men seeking to stop the sale of a Beryl dairy farm with ties to the FLDS Church.
"The trust is now experiencing a serious cash crunch," Wisan wrote.Wisan's lawyers are owed about $575,000 and his own accounting firm hasn't been paid since April 2007. The UEP Trust, which is property rich but cash poor, has about $54,000 in the bank.