July 23, 2008
Focus on Polygamy May Result in Charges
By Ben Winslow Deseret News
The U.S. attorney for Utah predicts prosecutions against members of polygamous sects as part of a multistate cooperative investigation into crimes associated with polygamy.
"I absolutely think that there will be charges," Brett Tolman said Tuesday. "They may range in nature and scope, but there will be charges."
It comes as a coalition of law enforcement from several states -- Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Texas -- are beginning to share information about crimes within polygamy, particularly the Fundamentalist LDS Church.
Authorities confirmed a database has been created to share information between the law enforcement entities.
"It can be accessed by those that are investigating those particular crimes so that information can be shared," Tolman said.
Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith, whose office helped build the criminal case against FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, said the information sharing could help in future investigations.
"Whether it results in charges, I don't know," he said Tuesday. "Texas still has a lot of information they're going through."
Smith was also unsure how much the other states would ultimately see after lawyers for the church finished with constitutional challenges regarding the hundreds of boxes of evidence seized in the YFZ Ranch raid. FLDS lawyers have already challenged some of it, citing priest-penitent privilege.
Tolman, who will testify in Washington, D.C., on Thursday about federal intervention in polygamy-related crimes, has said he doesn't believe a federal task force is necessary. It is a belief that Smith shares.
"We in local law enforcement have been working really well with other state, local and federal officers," Smith said. "We don't need Sen. (Harry) Reid telling us how to manage this issue. We've been dealing with it for a long, long time, and we have gotten convictions."
Reid, the Senate majority leader, has been critical of states' efforts to combat crimes within polygamous communities and called for Thursday's congressional meeting.
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