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Arrest nets letters, cash en route to FLDS chief

Seth Steed Jeffs, brother of fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, is facing felony charges that could send him to prison for up to five years.

Seth Jeffs, who told authorities he is a "messenger" for the polygamous church led by his older brother, was initially arrested on charges of prostitution and solicitation. A felony charge of harboring a fugitive was added after FBI agents interviewed the 32-year-old Hildale resident. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver is handling the case.

Warren Jeffs is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that broke away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the mainstream church disavowed polygamy in 1890. The FLDS leader is wanted by Utah and Arizona authorities on a charge of sexual misconduct with a minor and is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

A Pueblo County, Colo., sheriff's deputy arrested Seth Jeffs on a traffic stop Friday during the early morning hours after dispatchers received a report of an erratic driver. Also in the car was Nathanial Steed Allred, 27, a cousin to the two Jeffs brothers.

Allred, who was driving, told the deputy Seth Jeffs had hired him for "sexual companionship" and that he was paid $5,000 for "his sexual services," according an affidavit written by FBI special agent J. Andrew Stearns.

The vehicle was impounded and a search warrant obtained after a narcotics dog indicated there were signs of drugs in the car, the affidavit says.

Discovered inside the vehicle was about $142,000 in cash, seven cell phones and several hundred letters addressed to Warren Jeffs. Envelopes containing pre-paid cell phone cards and credit cards were also in the car. A glass donation jar filled with money and labeled with a photo of Warren Jeffs and the phrase, "Pennies for the Prophet," was also found.

Many of the envelopes were addressed to "The Prophet" or "Warren Jeffs," or similar variations of those names, the affidavit says. A second search warrant was obtained in order to review the correspondence, which contained personal and FLDS church-related information, according to Stearns' affidavit.

Seth Jeffs told investigators the envelopes and letters contained "well wishes for the prophet" and were being delivered to a bishop at the FLDS headquarters in Eldorado, Texas, where the first FLDS temple is being built.

He also told officials that he was "well aware" that his older brother is a federal fugitive but that he did not know Warren Jeffs' whereabouts, the affidavit says.

Seth Jeffs also said neither he "nor any other member of the congregation would ever assist law enforcement in locating Warren Steed Jeffs" and said the circumstances regarding his brother were acceptable to those in their religion because "the prophets are often persecuted," the affidavit says.

Stearns said fugitives like Warren Jeffs often use cash, pre-paid cards or non-traceable currency alternatives to avoid detection and capture.

According to the affidavit, Seth Jeffs told the FBI "it would be stupid to tell anyone where he is because he (Warren Jeffs) would get caught."


E-mail: nperkins@desnews.com