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Custer County Sect Leader Held Without Bail

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Victoria Wicks file photo
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The leader of a renounced Mormon sect in Custer County will remain in federal custody until he is tried in Utah.

Seth Jeffs, 42, made a second appearance in Rapid City Monday morning for a detention hearing. He made a first appearance last week on charges of fraud and money laundering.

Jeffs is accused of being a coconspirator in a scheme to use SNAP benefits to provide food to ineligible people and to convert food benefits to cash. Authorities say the scheme took place in Utah, where 10 more people are charged. All are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Connolly argued that Jeffs has in the past shown up for court appearances and successfully completed probation. That was for a felony conviction of harboring a fugitive, his brother Warren Jeffs, about a decade ago.

Judge Daneta Wollmann found that Seth Jeffs does not present a danger to the community, but he is a flight risk. She pointed out that Jeffs faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine in excess of $20 million, and so he has more incentive now to flee than he did 10 years ago when facing a minor felony.

Jeffs remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

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