Lawyers for the court-controlled real-estate holdings arm of the Fundamentalist LDS Church have served court papers on the polygamous sect's Texas ranch.
In papers obtained by the Deseret News, attorney Sam Allen said a request for documents was sent by certified mail to the YFZ Ranch, LLC and its registered agent, Merrill Jessop. The request demands "documents and tangible objects addressed to the custodian of records for Bank of America."
It also puts the YFZ on notice that it has a right to seek a protective order over any records requests.
Allen, a Texas attorney retained by the United Effort Plan Trust, declined to comment on the records request.
"We're just looking," Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the UEP Trust, said Monday. "We're not sure if we have an interest. We've picked up some pretty interesting information in terms of who bought the YFZ Ranch."
The UEP Trust has filed court papers seeking documents and evidence to help it determine who owns the YFZ Ranch and how it was paid for. Wisan is also trying to collect on an $8.8 million judgment against FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and other former trustees accused of mismanaging it.
Over the years, lawyers have struggled to get documents about the FLDS Church's management of the trust claiming that records have disappeared, been destroyed or moved. They had to go to court to see records seized when Jeffs was arrested in 2006 outside Las Vegas, and when his brother was arrested in Colorado.
Texas prosecutors were served with subpoenas in May, seeking evidence seized in the raid on the YFZ Ranch. Wisan is seeking information on who financed the ranch and the FLDS Church's first-ever temple. Most recently, the FLDS Church's former law firm was served with subpoenas for documents.
In 2005, a Utah court took control of the UEP Trust amid allegations that Jeffs and other FLDS leaders had been mismanaging it. A judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court appointed Wisan as special fiduciary. Since then, he has been trying to enact court-ordered reforms to the UEP, including subdividing property in the FLDS enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
The UEP was founded on the early-Mormon concept of a "united order," where members deeded everything to the church and it was doled out according to just wants and needs. The UEP controls homes, businesses and property in Hildale, Colorado City, and in Bountiful, British Columbia, in Canada.
Recently, 57 letters have been sent to community members threatening them with eviction if they don't pay a $100 a month assessment fee for infrastructure improvements to the border towns.
"We've got about two-thirds of the people paying," Wisan said Monday. "These 57 are those that we've clearly identified as those not paying anything."
Shortly after the Texas raid, occupancy agreements, taxes and assessments started being paid. Wisan believes FLDS faithful have been encouraged to cooperate with the fiduciary, as much as they can. It is despite an edict by Jeffs when the courts took control of the trust, ordering them not to."I have people that are calling and communicating now," Wisan said.
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