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Lyle Jeffs Sentenced For Role In Food Stamp Fraud

Lyle Jeffs, brother of imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, was sentenced Wednesday to almost five years in prison for his role in a food stamp fraud scheme, and for escaping confinement.

Lyle Jeffs was a bishop in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and was convicted of running a scheme to divert around $11 million in food-stamp benefits to a communal storehouse and front companies.

Jeffs' attorney said his actions were part of the FLDS religious beliefs in communal living, but many in the community allege the food was not distributed equitably.

Jeffs was a fugitive for about a year after he slipped off an ankle monitoring device while on supervised release. In addition to his prison sentence, Jeffs is ordered to pay $1 million in restitution.

Last year a federal court found the towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, guilty of religious discrimination, for acting as arms of the FLDS church. To learn more about the community, visit kjzz.org/shortcreek.

Sarah Ventre produces KJZZ’s two-hour daily program, The Show. Prior to working at KJZZ, she was a producer and editor at NPR headquarters in Washington for a number of shows, desks, podcasts and the national newscast. Her reporting ranges from understanding the relationship between faith, culture, and community among those who have left the FLDS church, to political implications of world music showcases at SXSW. Ventre’s work has been featured on Weekend Edition, Weekend All Things Considered, and on member station WAMU. Ventre also freelances for the Phoenix New Times, Bitch magazine, and several other publications. Ventre grew up in the Valley and is a founder of the nonprofit organization Girls Rock! Phoenix, which puts on a rock ’n’ roll camp for girls, trans, and gender nonconforming youths every summer. She also participates in live storytelling events, and occasionally performance art. Ventre holds a degree in anthropology from Arizona State University. She is always up for a good laugh or a great chile relleno, and is happy to have returned to her hometown to tell stories within her community.