SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has quietly withdrawn from the $110 million United Effort Plan trust of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.
Saying that the state's "objectives have been achieved," the Utah Attorney General's Office on Friday confirmed that it had removed itself from the UEP Trust, which holds most of the property and homes in the twin border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.
The UEP Trust was created by the FLDS Church in 1942 on the concept of a "united order," allowing followers to share in its assets. But the state of Utah seized control of it in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement by FLDS Church leaders including Warren Jeffs, who was later convicted of child sex abuse and is serving a life prison sentence in Texas.
Since then, the complex fund has been the center of a long legal battle. In addition, the state-appointed fiduciary and his attorneys racked up more than $5.7 million in fees, money the state paid while both Utah and the Arizona Attorney General's Office came up with an exit strategy for their involvement with the trust.
Utah and Arizona both successfully withdrew in April, the Utah Attorney General's Office confirmed.
"The attorney general became involved because the prior trustees abandoned their responsibilities, leaving trust assets at risk of being lost. The trust and the community are far better off than before the attorney general became involved," spokesman Dan Burton said in a prepared statement Friday.
"A local independent board is firmly in place, managing all aspects of trust administration and continues to distribute much-needed benefits (mostly in the form of residential property) to trust beneficiaries. The attorney fees and costs of trust administration are but a small fraction of what they were before our office fought to return the trust to local control. And, most importantly, trust property is no longer being used as a weapon to control the community and abuse women and children," he said.