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The "Lost Boys"
The Lost Boys
They are just young men (mostly young teenagers) who have become competition to the older men who want more (and usually much younger) wives.  They are kicked out of their homes and run out of town.  They often leave with just the shirts on their backs.  Most have minimum education and few life-skills.  But, the Prophet said that they must go away.  So their parents cast them out like unwanted pets.  Now, they are out on the street trying to fend for themselves.  They are known as the "Lost Boys".

Read the tragic stories of their attempting to survive and to integrate into mainstream society.  These articles are in chronological order.
 
 
Group urges sponsorship of boys cast out of polygamist sect
By Patty Henetz
The Associated Press
KUTV.com
Originally published Saturday July 31, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Even though he was abandoned by his family after his church leader excommunicated him for wanting to go to public school, a former member of a polygamist sect on Saturday asked that people not condemn his father.   "The fathers are not always the bad guys.  They, too, are being persecuted by the prophet," said Richard Gilbert, who was in Salt Lake City to speak on behalf of some 400 boys and young men pushed out of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ.   The prophet is Warren Jeffs, who reportedly has banished hundreds of men and boys from the twin border cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, in a struggle for control over the sect, whose estimated 6,000 to 12,000 members make it the largest polygamous group in the West.   Gilbert and about 50 other boys appeared at a Capitol news briefing to help announce the efforts of the nonprofit group Diversity, a mentoring group seeking donations and sponsors the hundreds of youths abandoned by their families.   Gilbert said he was excommunicated at age 16 after saying he wanted to attend public school.  In July 2000, Jeffs, told followers to stop associating with apostates and outsiders and pull their children from public schools.   "This is really happening in the United States," he said.  "There's a lot that goes on that people need to see and help with."     Read more
 
 
Ex-communicated FLDS Boys are Asking for Help
By Kimberly Houk
KSL TV Channel 5 News
Originally broadcast July 31, 2004

More than 400 teenage boys are wandering the streets of southern Utah ... with no where to go ... and no where to call home.   They're called the "Lost Boys" ...   Utah's Attorney General says they've been forced out of their polygamist homes in the community of Colorado City, Arizona ... and Hilldale, Utah.   Kimberly Houk joins us from the State Capitol with more.   More than 1 hundred of the "Lost Boys" filled the Capitol's steps earlier this afternoon.   They were there asking for help ... and wanting to tell their story.   And it's a sad story ... filled with intimate details of what it's like to be a young boy living in the polygamist colony controlled by FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs.   "FISCHER: ON A MONTHLY BASIS MULTIPLE FAMILIES ARE BEING DESTROYED.   CHILDREN WAKE UP FINDING THEY HAVE A NEW DADDY FINDING THAT THEY HAVE NEW BROTHERS AND SISTERS."     Read more
 
 
Group Discusses Plight of Boys from Fundamentalist Church
KSL TV Channel 5 News
Originally published July 31, 2004

Hundreds of boys from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints are speaking out and turning to you for help after facing excommunication.   The boys have been expelled from the church, their families, and their homes.   "Diversity", a non-profit organization, held a media conference at the State Capitol to make the public aware of their situation.   "Diversity" provides mentors, financial support, housing, schooling, and counseling to help the boys learn how to excel in American society.   Most of the boys were evicted for what many would consider to be normal teen behavior -- watching movies, wearing short sleeved shirts, or even just talking to girls.     Read more
 
 
Sect's distress tugs at author
Extremism: He is involved in helping victims of the Short Creek polygamous group, such as the "lost boys"
By Patty Henetz
The Associated Press
Originally published July 31, 2004

A year ago, Jon Krakauer told more than 800 people crammed into a downtown movie theater for a reading of his book, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, that he wasn't pursuing social reform when he wrote about religious extremism.   Since then, he has so deeply immersed himself in the distressed lives of members and former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints he no longer will write about the polygamous sect that inhabits twin towns on the Utah-Arizona border.   "I've been asked to help a lot of people who feel they've been victimized by this culture," Krakauer told The Associated Press on Friday in a rare interview.  "I just keep getting drawn deeper and deeper into this."   By "this", Krakauer means the religious politics of FLDS and its leader-prophet, Warren Jeffs, who reportedly has banished hundreds of men and boys from Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., in a struggle for control over the sect, whose estimated 6,000 to 12,000 members make it the largest polygamous group in the West.   Krakauer's best-selling book on religious extremism focused on the 1984 cold-blooded murders of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica, in American Fork.  He will be in Salt Lake City today to lend weight to an organization calling itself Diversity, founded by former polygamist Dan Fischer.     Read more
 
 
Aid sought for church's victims
By Stephen Speckman
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, August 1, 2004

They are boys banished from their own families because polygamous FLDS Church leaders said it should be so.   Now, the nonprofit group Diversity, founded by Dan Fischer, a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is asking for the public to help more than 400 of these boys, many of whom are forced to live out of cars and behind Dumpsters.   Two of these so-called "lost boys" spoke out publicly for the first time on the state Capitol steps Saturday afternoon.  Joining them were dozens of former FLDS teens and young adults — a few were females or girlfriends — along with Jon Krakauer, author of "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith," and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.   "We just want everyone to become aware that this is really happening in the United States," said Richard Gilbert.  "There's a lot that goes on that people need to see and help with."   Gilbert, 19, was kicked out of the FLDS Church, which is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when he was 16, in part, because he wanted to attend public schools.  Gilbert said his father was banished first, followed by the rest of the family after his mother refused to remarry at the direction of FLDS leadership.     Read more
 
 
Gathering puts focus on polygamy's 'lost boys'
By Joseph A. Reaves
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 1, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY-Dozens of young males, many of them timid teenagers, gathered on the steps of the Utah Capitol on Saturday in an unprecedented effort to tell the world the horrors they suffered growing up in the nation's largest polygamous community.   The young men and boys were raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which has its headquarters in the twin cloistered communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, along the remote Arizona Strip 120 miles northwest of the Grand Canyon.   All said they either were excommunicated from the church or pressured into leaving by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet and unchallenged ruler of the FLDS.   They stressed they were but a fraction of more than 400 males ages 13 and older who have been banished from the communities since Jeffs gained supreme power.  All have little education and no preparation to survive in the outside world.   "We just want everyone to become aware this is really happening in the United States," Richard Gilbert, 19, said.   "I was excommunicated by the prophet Warren Jeffs at the age of 16 because I decided I wanted to go to public school."     Read more
 
 
Nearly 200 offer help to polygamy's 'lost boys
By Joseph A. Reaves
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 3, 2004

Nearly 200 people, including a 97-year-old woman, have called a hotline since Sunday offering to help scores of young men and boys who were thrown out of the nation's largest polygamous community in a pair of remote communities along the Arizona-Utah state line.   "We've had a wonderfully large response," said Lynette Phillips, director of Smiles for Diversity, a non-profit group that launched a nationwide appeal for the boys.   "I don't want to say we are overwhelmed, because we can always use help.  But the response has been amazing."   In a move officials hailed as courageous and unprecedented, dozens of young men and boys gathered on the steps of the Utah capitol in Salt Lake City last Saturday to tell how their lives were shattered by the leadership of their polygamous faith.  The youths said they represented but a fraction of more than 400 males who either were excommunicated or driven from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1998.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy's 'lost boys' struggle to fit in
By Rachel Olsen
The Spectrum
Originally published August 5, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- Almost four years after he was put on religious probation for watching movies like "Charlie's Angels" and staying out too late, Thomas Steed, 19, is working toward his GED and will be taking college courses in the fall.   Steed spent most of his life as a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   However, soon after his probation with the church began, he lived in a tool shed on a construction job site where he worked.   Barely scrapping by, Steed eventually got another job so he could support himself.  Late in the year 2002, he got an appointment with FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs, where Jeffs informed him, due in part to his heritage, that he was excommunicated and would be destroyed by God.   Boys leaving or allegedly expelled from the FLDS culture recently received national attention as the so-called "lost boys."     Read more
 
 
'Deborah Norville Tonight' for August 9
Rich Ream, Dr. Dan Fischer, Mark Shurtleff, Scott Stewart, Drew Pinsky, Gregg Olsen
Deborah Norville
MSNBC TV
Originally aired Monday, August 9, 2004

DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: The lost boys, raised in a polygamist community, now they've been kicked out, 400 young boys suddenly forced to fend on their own.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   UNIDENTIFIED MALE They simply knock on their door and take them and let them off in the desert.   (END VIDEO CLIP)   NORVILLE: Some as young as 13. And wait until you hear why.   Tonight, exclusive, one of polygamy's darkest secrets.   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)   UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrifying, absolutely terrifying.   (END VIDEO CLIP)   ANNOUNCER: From studio 3K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.

And good evening, everybody.  Imagine you're as young as 13 years old and you're being kicked out of your home, told to leave your community with nothing more than the clothes on your back, nowhere to go, no food to eat.  Well, that's what's happening right now in the twin border cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.  That's the home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which broke away from the main church several decades ago.   There are more polygamists living in those two cities than anywhere in America, upwards of 10,000.  And an estimated 400 boys and young men have been kicked out of the fundamentalist church in the past six years for such transgressions as talking to girls, exposing their arms on hot summer days, or simply watching movies.  The sect is led by Warren Jeffs, a reclusive self-proclaimed prophet who's believed to have himself at least 75 wives.   It is a fiercely closed society, where outsiders are shunned.  But since last January, allegations of sexual abuse of children and child abuse have come to light as members, both men and women, have left the community.  And now there are new revelations of forced expulsion from the community of hundreds of boys.  Why?  Well, some charge that it's one way of getting rid of young men who could be considered competition for older men hoping to marry young girls.     Read more
 
 
Non-profit group seeks help for ousted FLDS boys
Southern Utah News
sunews.net
Originally published August 11, 2004

More than 400 boys from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) communities in Utah have been expelled from their homes.  Most were evicted by their polygamous fathers at the direction of FLDS leadership for what many would consider to be normal teen behavior: watching movies, fraternizing with kids of other faiths, wearing short sleeved shirts or even just talking to girls.   Some of the boys were as young as 13 years of age when they were forced to leave and have been told they are unworthy to return and are going to Hell.  Some boys have spiraled into drugs, depression and suicide.  With little education, no money, no parental support and few social skills, the boys' prospects remain bleak, and they will easily become a burden to society unless people lend a hand.   A non-profit organization has pledged to help provide for the boys, most of whom have been cut off from all family support.  The group seeks to provide mentors, financial support, housing, counseling, schooling and loving care for the more than 400 boys whose own families have turned their backs on them.   "Most of these boys haven't done anything wrong, yet they've been thrown in the trash by their parents," says Dr. Dan Fischer, founder and chairman of the non-profit foundation, Diversity.     Read more
 
 
6 young men sue polygamous sect
By Joseph A. Reaves
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 28, 2004

Six young men filed suit Friday claiming they were among several hundred forced from their homes and cut off from their families so leaders of the nation's largest polygamous community could have easier access to multiple wives.   The suit, filed in Utah's 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City, accuses the two top leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of assault, extortion, making "terroristic threats" and encouraging or engaging in child kidnapping.   It is the second suit filed in four weeks against the hierarchy of the FLDS, which has its headquarters in the remote communities of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, along the Arizona-Utah line.   Warren Jeffs, self-proclaimed prophet of the FLDS, was accused in the earlier suit of repeatedly sodomizing his 5-year-old nephew years ago and covering up for serial sexual molestations by other sect leaders for decades.   He denied those allegations.   The latest suit accuses Jeffs and one of his closest aides, Sam Barlow, of conspiring to ruin the lives of several hundred young men by forcing them out of Colorado City and Hildale.     Read more
 
 
FLDS church, leaders sued by 6 'lost boys'
Lawsuit says their lives were ruined by ouster
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published August 28, 2004

ST. GEORGE — Six of polygamy's "lost boys" filed a lawsuit in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City Friday, saying their former church and its leaders should pay up for ruining their lives by excommunicating them.   The civil suit names the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, its president Warren Jeffs, Sam Barlow, the United Effort Plan Trust and three John Does as defendants.   FLDS attorney Rod Parker said the lawsuit violates one of the most basic principles of separation of church and state.   "A church's membership decisions are simply outside the scope of judiciary powers to intervene," Parker said, adding a church defines itself by who is and who is not a member.   In the complaint, Richard J. Ream, Thomas S. Steed, Don R. Fischer, Dean J. Barlow, Walter S. Fischer and Richard Gilbert allege the FLDS church and its leaders engaged in "the secret, cruel and unlawful practice of systematic excommunication of adolescent and young adult males for trivial reasons, or no reason at all, to reduce competition for wives."     Read more
 
 
Boys ousted from polygamist sect seek new life in outside world
The Associated Press
WXXA-TV Albany, NY
Fox23news.com
Originally published Friday, September 3, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Damned by his religion, denied by his family and left with nowhere else to go, the teenager slept in a cold tool shed just steps from a company owned by his relatives.   They went home at night to warm, cozy beds while Tom Sam Steed stole bread, cereal and nutrition bars from a gas station just to survive.  He tried, several times, to kill himself, convinced he was worth nothing.   His salvation came when he got a job cleaning carpets and finally left the control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, and its leader, Warren Jeffs.   Former members describe a religion that thrives on domination.  Every detail of their life was scripted - from plural marriages to what they could wear, who they could associate with and what job they could have.   In the past four and a half years, more than 400 teenage boys have been excommunicated, many for seemingly minor infractions such as watching a movie or talking to a girl.   Former church members suspect something else is causing the banishment of young men.  In a polygamous community, there are only so many women to go around.  Older men don't want to compete with young men for wives.  The boys have to go.   Now, they have been thrust into a society they have been taught is evil.  They are homeless, uneducated, confused and unprepared for a world where they can make their own choices.   They are lost boys.     Read more
 
 
Lost Boys Found
How the plight of several young men became a legal battle to bring down a polygamist sect.
By Ted McDonough
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published September 23, 2004

Gathered inside a gated compound, under the watchful eye of a security guard but beneath a beautiful mountain backdrop, a group of young men speak casually about their mothers' reassignment to new husbands, running construction crews as teenagers, and celebrating the 2000 New Year half believing the world was about to end.   Richard Gilbert, one of the oldest of the so-called Lost Boys of polygamy, pauses to examine clean glasses in the dishwasher, wondering if the white stuff is leftover milk or a calcium deposit.  He apologizes for the messiness of the apartment he shares with several other young men on the property of their Sandy patron, businessman Dan Fischer.   At 19, Gilbert has assumed an older brother role among the group of exiles from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).  It's nothing he hasn't done before.   What Gilbert calls "the flood" began in early 2003, a few months after the death of FLDS Prophet Rulon Jeffs and takeover of the church by one of his sons, Warren Jeffs.  Gilbert already had been kicked out of the church and was living in a Hurricane duplex with three other young former FLDS members.   There came a knock on the door, then another, and another.   In a period of two months, about 50 boys showed up.  "A lot of times it was, 'Father told me to get out,'" Gilbert said.  "In a lot of cases it was 'Warren wouldn't let me stay.'"     Read more
 
 
A Lost Boy comes home and finds sadness:
A son of Bountiful speaks out about the loneliness of sharing his dad with 26 siblings
By Daphne Bramham
Vancouver Sun
Originally published Saturday, April 23, 2005

CRESTON - Whenever he can, Jerry Blackmore hugs his son and daughter and tells them he loves them.   Every day he spends as much time with them as he can because he remembers growing up in a polygamous family in Bountiful and sharing a father with 26 others.   "I hated it that I didn't have a dad to do things with," says 29-year-old Blackmore, who left Bountiful when he was only 13.   "My whole life I remember seeing other kids with their parents doing things and hating it that I didn't have that.  I hate it still and I don't know who to hate."   Growing up, he hardly ever saw his father, Charles Quinton.  His parents never lived in the same home and he has his mother's last name.  But Blackmore wasn't the only one who didn't really know his dad.  Few kids in Bountiful did.   How could they when some men had 40 and 50 children?   Blackmore certainly does not hate his mother, who was a plural wife.  Blackmore says she single-handedly raised her five children, filling the role not only of mother, but breadwinner.   It's only because of his mother that Blackmore was in Creston this week with his two children and his wife.  It is sheer coincidence that his first visit back in years was the same week as the meeting that the Bountiful Women's Society organized to dispel what they say are the myths about their polygamous lifestyle.     Read more
 
 
Lost to the Only Life They Knew
Officials say more than 400 teenage boys have fled or been driven from a polygamous sect.
By David Kelly
Los Angeles Times
Originally published June 13, 2005

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Abandoned by his family, faith and community, Gideon Barlow arrived here an orphan from another world.   At first, he played the tough guy, aloof and hard. But when no one was watching, he would cry.   The freckle-faced 17-year-old said he was left to fend for himself last year after being forced out of Colorado City, Ariz., a town about 40 miles east of here, just over the state line.   "I couldn't see how my mom would let them do what they did to me," he said.   When he tried to visit her on Mother's Day, he said, she told him to stay away.  When he begged to give her a present, she said she wanted nothing.   "I am dead to her now," he said.   Gideon is one of the "Lost Boys," a group of more than 400 teenagers — some as young as 13 — who authorities in Utah and Arizona say have fled or been driven out of the polygamous enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City over the last four years.   His stated offenses: wearing short-sleeved shirts, listening to CDs and having a girlfriend.  Other boys say they were booted out for going to movies, watching television and staying out past curfew.   Some say they were sometimes given as little as two hours' notice before being driven to St. George or nearby Hurricane, Utah, and left like unwanted pets along the road.     Read more
 
 
The lost boys, thrown out of US sect so that older men can marry more wives
Julian Borger in Washington
The Guardian Unlimited - UK
Originally published Tuesday June 14, 2005

Up to 1,000 teenage boys have been separated from their parents and thrown out of their communities by a polygamous sect to make more young women available for older men, Utah officials claim.   Many of these "Lost Boys", some as young as 13, have simply been dumped on the side of the road in Arizona and Utah, by the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and told they will never see their families again or go to heaven.   The 10,000-strong FLDS, which broke away from the Mormon church in 1890 when the mainstream faith disavowed polygamy, believes a man must marry at least three women to go to heaven.   The sect appeared to be in turmoil yesterday, after its assets were frozen last week and a warrant was issued in Arizona on Friday for the arrest of its autocratic leader, Warren Jeffs, for arranging a wedding between an underage girl and a 28-year-old man who was already married.   Mr Jeffs is also being sued by lawyers for six of the Lost Boys for conspiracy to purge surplus males from the community, and by his nephew, Brent Jeffs, who accuses him of sexual abuse.   Warren Jeffs' whereabouts yesterday were uncertain, but Utah officials said they believed he may be hiding in an FLDS compound near Eldorado, Texas, and they have contacted the Texan authorities.   Some have voiced concern that an attempt to corner the sect leader could provoke a tragedy like the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas.     Read more
 
 
Hundreds of 'Lost Boys' Expelled by Polygamist Community
Authorities Believe a Fundamentalist Mormon Group Is Expelling Boys to Continue Polygamy
ABC News
World News Tonight
Originally broadcast June 15, 2005

Jun. 16, 2005 - At least 400 teenage boys have fled or have been kicked out of their communities along the Utah-Arizona border, forbidden from returning home.   Known as the "Lost Boys," they once belonged to a secretive sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which broke from the Mormon Church because its members wanted to practice polygamy.   The Lost Boys believe that polygamy is directly related to their exile.   John Jessop says he was kicked out of his mother's house at age 13 after running away for three days.   "It's hard," he said, "not being able to talk to my family at all, really.  I think about it all the time.  I actually have a hard time sleeping because of it."   Sam Icke says his father made him leave home after he got caught kissing a girl.   "He had no choice in the matter," he said, "because if he wouldn't, he would have the same problem that I had.  And he really believes in this."   The man they blame for their plight is Warren Jeffs, who law enforcement officials say dominates every facet of life in the FLDS community.  He enforces a dress code, chooses who marries whom and even controls the police.     Read more
 
 
PAULA ZAHN NOW
Video Voyeurism; The Lost Boys; Protecting Against 'Upskirting'; Security Camera Use Climbing
CNN
Originally broadcast August 4, 2005 - 20:00 ET

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Glad to have you with us tonight. A mystery town out in the desert desperate to shut out the rest of the world.

ZAHN (voice-over): A lost generation, boys with multiple mothers and dozens of brothers and sisters thrown out by their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many of them have had nowhere to go, food to eat.

ZAHN: Right here in America. So, why is a renegade religion banishing so many young men?

ZAHN: We begin tonight with the lost boys. Would you disown your son because he refused to obey your rules? Would you banish him from your house, from your entire community, even at the age of 9 and 10? Well, that's what investigators say has happened to hundreds of boys over the last seven years at a secretive religious sect in the West. And these boys' alleged crimes? Watching movies, swearing, even just wanting to go to public school. And, as you'll see, it gets even more sinister. This is a story we've been working on for a long time, a major investigation into this reclusive community. In a moment, my conversation with two of the lost boys.

First, here's Sean Callebs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the edge of the desert straddling the Utah and Arizona border, a community of breakaway Mormon fundamentalists lives in shuttered houses behind walls and gates, miles from other towns. In Utah, it's called Hildale, and, in Arizona, Colorado City. For generations, this group of about 7,000 people has shunned the rest of America and the opinions of outsiders.

GARY ENGELS, MOHAVE COUNTY INVESTIGATOR: They put these walls up for privacy.

CALLEBS (voice-over): County investigator Gary Engels has come to know a lot about this secretive group.

(on camera): Do they really believe they're the chosen ones?

ENGELS: Yes.

CALLEBS: When judgment day comes, what happens to these chosen people?

ENGELS: These chosen people believe that they will be lifted up while God sweeps the Earth clean of the wicked people. And then they'll be set back down to rebuild the Earth and replenish it.

CALLEBS: Engels has been sent to this town to investigate a variety of disturbing allegations and criminal charges, ranging from child neglect to rape and theft.     Read more
 
 
Lost Boys
ABC 4 News
abc4.com
Originally broadcast November 8, 2005

(ABC 4 News) -- They were born in to a secret society in the remote part of the desert ... now ... they've broken free to find themselves ... and a new faith.   In a no-holds-barred interview ... ABC 4 news talks to two so-called "lost boys."  Dubbed the lost boys by the media, they are young men who saw flaws in the leadership of polygamist leader and federal fugitive warren jeffs and left the group to find life outside the confines of the group some call a cult.   "If I'm going to hell, I don't care ... it's my hell."     Read more
 
 
From darkness into light
Former polygamist opens home, heart to abandoned boys
By Jaimee Rose
The Arizona Republic
Originally published December 25, 2005

On an icy evening before Christmas, two teenage boys pulled their Christmas tree from its slick new box and stared in wonder.   They fluffed the branches and puzzled over ornament placement - how exactly does this work?  Are you supposed to follow a pattern or just stick them on?   They knew they wanted piles of lights, and the boys laughed as they chased each other around the tree, spiraling light onto the dark branches.   "This is, like, my first real, actual Christmas," says Johnny Jessop.  He is 16 years old.   Jessop grew up in Colorado City in a polygamous home with 39 moms and more than 300 brothers and sisters, but no Christmas.  The holiday is not observed in his religion-ruled town, where the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has orphaned more than 400 teenagers like Jessop in order to leave young women for marriage to the older men.  The men believe they need three wives to get to heaven.   Shunned by their families and forbidden to return home, the "Lost Boys," as they are known, are left to fumble darkly through a world they can't comprehend.  With no money and often only eighth-grade educations, many end up homeless or in jail.  But a lucky few have found their way to a Salt Lake City support network of mentors who are sending them to school, finding them jobs, giving them homes and asking these boys, for the first time, what they'd like for Christmas.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy 'lost boys' may gain liberation
House gets bill that allows minors to seek emancipation
By Peter Nagy
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, January 20, 2006

The "lost boys" of the polygamous communities in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., could have the means to gain legal emancipation under a bill that advanced in the Legislature Thursday.   HB30, which would allow minors who are at least 16 years old to petition for emancipation, passed unanimously through the House Health and Human Services Committee and will now move to the House floor.   Co-sponsoring Rep. Lorie Fowlke, R-Orem, who has spent time in juvenile court as an attorney and mediator, said it is very difficult for courts to emancipate minors without the statutory framework the bill would provide.   "This is something that is very needed," she said.   Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said the bill would especially help boys who were thrown out of Hildale and Colorado City, often referred to as the "lost boys," because it would provide them with an option other than accusing their parents.   "Kids don't want (the state) to get their parents because they love them," he said.  "They feel their parents are victims as well."     Read more
 
 
Utah trying to deal with 'lost boys'
United Press International
New Kerala - India
NewKerala.com
Originally published January 21, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY: Utah officials are considering legislation that would allow "lost boys," teenagers forced out of polygamous communities, to become legal adults.   The bill would give teens on their own the right to apply to be emancipated.   At a hearing this week, state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff testified in favor of the bill.  He said boys who have the desire and skills to fend for themselves become homeless because as minors they cannot sign leases or even get medical care.   "This isn't just one or two boys," Shurtleff said.  "We have identified well over 400 by name."   Legislators pressed Shurtleff on why parents who abandon their sons are not prosecuted.  He said most of the boys he has talked to see their parents as victims and do not want to cause trouble for them.   While polygamy is illegal in Utah, it is practiced in a number of communities there and in neighboring states.
 
 
Emancipation process needed
Deseret Morning News editorial
deseretnews.com
Originally published Monday, January 23, 2006

The most compelling argument for the need to establish a legal process for emancipation are the so-called "lost boys" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Some 400 boys, ages 13-17, have been kicked out of their Hildale, Washington County, community in recent years because their church, which practices polygamy, is eliminating the "competition" for wives, according to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.  The practice leaves the boys, many of whom have never been away from home, have incomplete educations and few work skills, in legal limbo.  Without parents, these boys cannot enroll in school, obtain medical care, get drivers' licenses or obtain public assistance benefits.  These boys don't legally qualify for foster care because their parents have not relinquished their parental rights.  Because of their lifestyles, the parents are reluctant to have any contact with government officials.     Read more
 
 
'Lost Boys' may get help with life skills
Youths ousted from polygamous groups 'go wild' without limits
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, April 25, 2006

WASHINGTON, Washington County — They are teenage boys who have been forced out of the Fundamentalist LDS Church in Hildale and Colorado City.  Advocates say they have documented hundreds of cases of the so-called "Lost Boys," who have been booted from the polygamous church for committing "sins" such as kissing a girl or wearing shirtsleeves that are too short.   Now the "sins" some of them are committing include drug possession, public intoxication and assault.   "They get kicked out and they just go wild," said Elaine Tyler of The Hope Organization, an advocacy group for people who are leaving or have been cast out of polygamy.  "They don't have decisionmaking skills and they're just making dumb choices."   Now, the group is urging southern Utah prosecutors to help the "Lost Boys" who are getting caught up in the criminal justice system by offering alternatives to jail or prison when they're sentenced.   "We're totally receptive to this idea," Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap said.  "We're seeking to implement it.  I'd like to see them gain the sort of skills that can help them succeed with jobs, education and in their personal lives."   The Deseret Morning News has obtained a list of names culled from the Purgatory Jail and court records of people that advocates consider to be "Lost Boys."  The ones in the adult system are no older than 21.  Police have said the youngest they've referred to juvenile court is 14.     Read more
 
 
"LOST BOYS," LEGISLATORS & A.G. WILL WITNESS EMANCIPATION BILL SIGNING
attorneygeneral.utah.gov
Originally published April 28, 2006

 
Who:    Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
Representatives Roz McGee & Lori Fowlke
Senator Curtis Bramble
Lost Boys Diversity Foundation's Dr. Dan Fischer
several "Lost Boys" and others who supported this legislation or may be impacted by it.
    Read more
 
 
THE "LOST BOYS" LAW GOVERNOR SIGNS EMANCIPATION BILL TO HELP HOMELESS TEENS
attorneygeneral.utah.gov
Originally published May 2, 2006

 
The Lost Boys have finally found a law to protect them.   Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. highlighted the Emancipation of a Minor Act today when he ceremonially signed House Bill 30, which allows youth who are at least 16 years old to gain legal standing to get housing, education and other services.  The new law is aimed specifically for homeless youth, including the "Lost Boys," a group of teenage boys and girls who have been forced or encouraged to leave some polygamous communities.

"The plight of the Lost Boys has prompted all of us to reconsider the heartbreaking problems facing all homeless teens," says Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who worked with legislators to help pass the bill. "The Emancipation law gives these kids a much needed break."     Read more
 
 
'Lost Boys' Welcome Emancipation Bill
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast May 2, 2006

Abused or abandoned teenagers have a new tool to cut all legal ties with their parents, and it's being welcomed by teens ejected from the Warren Jeffs polygamy group.   Governor Huntsman today ceremonially signed a bill allowing emancipation -freedom-- from parents.  It was applauded by the so-called Lost Boys and even a Lost Girl from the Warren Jeffs group.   The rigid, stifling religious atmosphere of Colorado City.  It's all Joe Williams knew until he ran away a few months ago.   Joe Williams, Former FLDS member: "I mean, I have parents, but they can't come.   Don't even know where they are.  Haven't talked to them in years."   He believes his parents were assigned to a new compound by Warren Jeffs and are probably living in South Dakota.   Joe Williams: "Basically abandoned me, treated me like I didn't exist."   Until last fall, he lived with siblings in the FLDS community, but he says he was considered a rebel.  He finally decided to leave at age 14 when he got in trouble for listening to music and watching TV.   Joe Williams: "You're considered wicked, and usually the people that do that get kicked out."     Read more
 
 
Huntsman signs 'Lost Boys' bill
By Angie Welling
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Homeless teens in Utah, whether they've left a polygamous lifestyle or an abusive home life, now have a new legal tool to help them bridge the gap to adulthood.   "I think this is a good chance to start my life," said 15-year-old Bruce Barlow of HB30, the emancipation of a minor bill ceremoniously signed into law by Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. Tuesday afternoon.   Barlow is a "Lost Boy" of polygamy.   He fled the Fundamentalist LDS Church six weeks ago seeking "a better life."   He now lives with a cousin in St. George and works full time as a framer but cannot do things like open a bank account for his earnings because of his status as a minor.   Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff calls that in-between stage "legal limbo" and praised HB30 as an effective way to remove stumbling blocks to education, health insurance and student loans.   "As long as they're in that legal limbo they can't move on with their lives," Shurtleff said Tuesday.   Although state law will continue to value children and families, Huntsman said, "circumstances occasionally exist where a child must be freed from the legal bonds of their parents."     Read more
 
 
New law guides "Lost Boys"
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published May 4, 2006

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed House Bill 30 - the "Lost Boys" law - Tuesday that permits teenagers to seek emancipation from their parents.   Whether banished from the polygamous communities of Hildale or Colorado City, Ariz., made homeless from an abusive household or independently out on their own for other reasons, 17-year-olds will now be able to sign rental agreements, take out loans and acquire health insurance coverage freely without parental consent.   Under the new law, minors who wish to wield control over their lives will submit a petition to the juvenile court judge with proof they are capable of living independently.   Parents will be notified and given a chance to respond in the emancipation process, but it has already been projected to enable about a dozen youths a year full liberation.   However, with this new law comes responsibility - not only by the youth themselves, but by the state and the communities in which these youth reside if they are able to be successful, positive contributors to society.  We've witnessed the sad tales of teenage boys and girls exiled out of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for a wide range of reasons, including kissing and wearing "inappropriate" apparel.  But it has been more painstaking to watch these neglected youth, left to their own devices of poor decision-making skills in a much less-structured world than they once knew, commit criminal acts of drug abuse, assault, theft and other offenses.   The Hope Organization, an advocacy group for people who are leaving or have been cast out of polygamy, can celebrate the mandate that will make it easier for it to help the abandoned youth, but more must be done.     Read more
 
 
'Lost Boys' find freedom in new law
By Amy Brennan
BYU NewsNet
Originally published May 8, 2006

The "Lost Boys" and other homeless youth can now take control of their lives.   Under legislation signed last week, youth who are at least 16 years old can gain legal standing in order to access key resources such as housing, education and health care.  Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. signed HB 30 Tuesday, May 2, 2006 which includes the Emancipation of a Minor Act.   Homeless youth are among those who will benefit, but inspiration for the law came primarily from a group of youth known as the "Lost Boys," that have left polygamous communities.   Shannon Price, director of Diversity, a nonprofit foundation that cares for the youth, said doctrine promoted by the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints strengthened a need for this legislation.   "When Warren Jeffs came out with the new law that you had to have three wives or more to get to the highest level of celestial kingdom, they had to get rid of some of the boys," Price said.  "It was more effective to blame behavior of the children than the adults."   The Lost Boys have been forced out or encouraged to leave their polygamous communities.   Those choosing to stay face constant scorn from the community.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy Sect: Sinister Group?; Inside Secrets; Most Wanted
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
CNN
Originally broadcast May 8, 2006

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): ...isolation of this community along the Utah-Arizona border. What's harder to grasp is the total domination that one man, Warren Jeffs, has over the 10,000 people who live here. They're part of a Mormon sect of polygamists who call themselves the FLDS, the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. They call Warren Jeffs the prophet. The mainstream Mormon church banned polygamy in 1890 and doesn't associate with this sect.

This is one of the few photographs of Warren Jeffs, a seemingly ordinary man, but one with extraordinary power. DR. DAN FISCHER, FORMER FUNDAMENTALIST CHURCH OF LATTER DAY SAINTS MEMBER: If there were a Taliban of America, I would say this is it.

COOPER: Warren Jeffs hasn't been seen in more than a year. The FBI has been searching for him since June on charges of fleeing prosecution in Arizona, for arranging marriages involving underage girls. In the FLDS, reality is filtered through Warren Jeffs.

SAM ICKE, FORMER FUNDAMENTALIST CHURCH OF LATTER DAY SAINTS MEMBER: If the law comes in and takes over or anything happens to them, it's all a test sent from God through Warren. Everything is a test. Because they believe that the afterlife is going to tell the truth.

COOPER: Sam Icke is no longer part of the FLDS community. He was expelled by the prophet when he was 18.

ICKE: The thing that actually got me kicked out was, you know, I kissed this girl, and then she told, you know, told everybody what was going on.

I got a call from the leader, Warren Jeffs, and he told me to, you know, that -- to come and talk to him about it. I left, went home, and within the next day or so, you know, he called my dad and told him that I had to leave.     Read more
 
 
Emancipation bill is not about Lost Boys
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The Spectrum
Originally published May 11, 2006

As the social worker who drafted the emancipation bill, I want the citizens of Utah to understand that this bill isn't just about the polygamous "Lost Boys." It is about the hundreds of throw-away, homeless youth who are no longer wanted by their parents.

In Utah, it is not legal to shelter a youth under age 18 without parental consent or emancipation. Utah didn't have an emancipation statute, so I wrote one. I took it to Rep. Roz McGee who knew an emancipation statute was needed. It was introduced in the 2005 legislative session. The bill passed the House but did not make it to the Senate. It was reintroduced in 2006 with the help of Rep. Lorie Fowlke, Sen. Curtis Bramble and support from more than 40 state and community agencies.

As a social worker and advocate for our homeless youth, I want people to know that the statute is not the "Lost Boys" bill. It gives young people the opportunity to start their life and become contributing members of society. Thank you to the Attorney General, legislature, various agencies and the Governor for helping to give voice to our invisible, homeless youth.

Melissa Larsen, CSW
Salt Lake City
 
 
Talking to 'Lost Boys' of Bountiful
A conversation with two trying to make it outside.
By Amanda Euringer
The Tyee - Vancouver, BC
Originally published May 26, 2006

Much has been written about the young women of Bountiful, B.C., who are married off and having children as young as 15 -- although the leader of the polygamous community, Winston Blackmore, now assures the public that the marriageable age has been raised to the age of consent.   But what is it like to be one of "the Lost Boys," young men of Bountiful who are forced to leave their homes and families for disobeying the "prophet" Winston?   Jane Blackmore, the rebellious first wife of Winston Blackmore, has told The Tyee of troops of "boys that no one knows what to do with" who get shuffled from farm to farm for other wives to look after.   She described boys who have little recourse in a community where self worth is based on how many wives you are "given" by the prophet, based on merit that is decided by him and the God he alone speaks for.  She spoke of a skewed community where, since most of the young woman are "given" to a few older husbands, the ratio of unmarried young men to unmarried young women is highly unbalanced.     Read more
 
 
The lost boys of Colorado City
Over the past five years, a fundamentalist Mormon "prophet" has banished as many as 400 boys from his Arizona town. Now the teens, once forbidden to even watch a movie, are adrift in a world of drugs, girls and depression.
By Kimberly Sevcik
Salon.com
Originally published July 6, 2006

On any given day there were 13 kids sleeping on the floor of the butt hut.  It was 2003, and Sam Icke was almost 19.  To get to work in the morning, he had to pick his way over the limp bodies, the piles of dirty clothes, the half-empty bags of Doritos.  The smell of dirty socks and stale beer clung to the matted carpeting and the ratty brown sofa.  Nine hours later, when he got home, Icke found those same bodies upright, fixating on a high-speed car chase on the TV in the corner, getting stoned, and doing shots of Bacardi.  In the kitchen, a swarm of roaches feasted on the ossified remains of a four-day-old spaghetti dinner.   Icke was the only one in the cramped, run-down apartment with a steady job, tiling floors for $300 a week in the desert town of Hurricane, Utah.  Every week or two another kid showed up at the door, looking for a place to park his ass -- that's why they called communal houses like these butt huts.  Icke took them in -- no exceptions, no questions asked.  He understood what they were going through.  Like him, they had been banished from their homes by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a radical offshoot of the Mormon church, and forbidden to ever see their families again.  Their families wept and fretted and protested under their breath, but none of them fought to keep their sons.  They didn't dare defy the orders of Warren Jeffs, the dictatorial leader of FLDS, a self-proclaimed prophet whose followers believe him to be the earthly executor of God's will.     Read more
 
 
Little help is available for teens leaving FLDS Church
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, July 8, 2006

Police in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz., say they're seeing a number of teenagers who are fed up with the Fundamentalist LDS Church and leaving on their own.   The trouble is, they may not get much help leaving.   "One of the biggest problems that we have with the individuals that are wanting out is they're underage and there's not much we can do for them legally," said Gary Engels, a special investigator for the Mohave County Attorney's Office.   Engels said he is seeing people — mostly teenagers — who don't like living under the FLDS Church's increasingly restrictive doctrine.   "There are more people leaving this organization every day," Engels said.  "A lot of them are wanting to leave willingly.   They're finding the lifestyle they're trying to live under Warren's rules and regulations too restrictive."   Warren Jeffs is the fugitive leader of the FLDS Church.  He is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, facing criminal charges in Utah and Arizona accusing him of forcing teenage girls into polygamous marriages with older men.  Federal prosecutors have charged him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.   A $100,000 reward is being offered for information leading to his arrest.   These teens are similar to the so-called "Lost Boys" who are kicked out of the border towns by Jeffs for unnamed "sins."   After leaving the border towns, they crash in Hurricane and St. George.  Some stay with relatives or people sympathetic to their plight.   However, service providers cannot help them because they're minors and runaways.     Read more
 
 
No emancipation rush
9 Utah teens' reasons to split from their parents run gamut
By Linda Thomson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, July 30, 2006

Nine teenagers have petitioned Utah's juvenile courts to become emancipated from their parents since a new law went into effect in May, but there seems to be "no rush" of the so-called Lost Boys who have escaped or been cast out of polygamous communities.   Instead, state Guardian ad Litem Kristin Brewer says there seems to be quite a mixture of youngsters with varying motivations asking the court to be free of their parents.   There appears to be no particular pattern.   "It's a whole gamut — a kid living at home who doesn't want to do what mom says to a kid living in foster care who is tired of dealing with the system and wants to be independent," Brewer said.  "Our experience shows it doesn't seem like a rush from the 'Lost Boys.' "   The state Legislature approved a law permitting 16- and 17-year-old youths to ask juvenile courts to emancipate them.  Part of the motivation for passage of the law was to assist the Lost Boys in gaining independence or to help homeless teens who have been on their own for years.   First, the young people must fill out court-supplied forms.  Typically, a juvenile court judge will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the teen.   Court hearings are held and the final decision rests with the judge.     Read more
 
 
Excommunicated FLDS members strangers in a strange land
KVBC News 3 - Las Vegas
Originally broadcast September 1, 2006

Warren Jeffs makes his first court appearance Thursday morning.  The leader of the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints was arrested late Monday just north of Las Vegas after a routine traffic stop.  He's been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list since May for charges that include sex with a minor and accomplice to rape.  His polygamist sect has been under increasingly intense scrutiny since his arrest.  One reason is the growing number of young men being thrust into the Las Vegas community with no funds, no family, and an uncertain future, known as the lost boys.  Clark County's Juvenile Justice Center is unfortunately becoming the new home for some of the young boys forced out of their close knit communities in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.  One 15-year-old convicted sex offender who's awaiting his release is an example of what can happen when these kids are pushed out into a previously unknown world.  In a community where men can have multiple, sometimes dozens of wives, competition for brides can get complicated.  Insiders tell us that that is the reason Warren Jeffs expelled so many young men from the towns he ruled over as prophet.     Read more
 
 
Justice: The Polygamist's Life
Escaping Warren Jeffs's controversial religious sect
By Andrew Murr
Newsweek - September 11, 2006 issue

Sept. 11, 2006 issue - Polygamous leader Warren Jeffs banished Sam Icke for kissing a girl.  Icke, then 17, had been doing his best to follow the rules of Jeffs's insular Mormon sect — listening to the leader's taped sermons, avoiding even G-rated movies and wearing wrist-to-ankle clothes in the desert sun.  But after the kiss, Icke was forced to leave his family in Colorado City, Ariz., with only a car and a 10th-grade education in tow.  He floundered on his own.  "I was lost and scared," he recalls.  But last year he got help from a group that assists the "Lost Boys," as many call the estimated 600 to 1,000 young men who've left — or been booted from — the sect in the past decade.  Today Icke, 22, is studying accounting and working full time.  "I feel completely different," he says.  Jeffs's arrest last week outside Las Vegas after four months on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list sets the stage for trials in Utah and Arizona on charges that he allegedly performed illegal marriages between young girls and older men.  With Jeffs behind bars, will more of the prophet's 10,000 followers try to leave?     Read more
 
 
Lost boys are the forgotten polygamy victims
By Daphne Bramham
The Vancouver Sun
Originally published Friday, October 20, 2006

It's simple arithmetic in polygamous, fundamentalist Mormon societies like Bountiful, B.C. Some men get many wives, others get none.  It's usually older men who get second, third and sometimes more wives, brides who are usually teenagers.  Left behind are angry, frustrated young men.  Not only can they not choose their own mates, they've been told it's against the church's rules to date or even socialize with girls their age.  A few lucky young men do get wives.  But it can feel like entrapment.  One day they wake up and are told they're marrying a stranger for "time and all eternity," in the words of the faith's marriage ceremony.  The boys are often the forgotten victims of polygamy.  But three of their stories are told in a documentary by Maureen Palmer and Helen Slinger called Polygamy's Lost Boys, which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on Global Television.  All three stories are different.  All are heart-breaking insights into the difficult transition from having no freedom to having almost too much.  Fundamentalist Mormons broke with the mainstream church when it renounced polygamy in 1890.  Because polygamy is illegal in Canada and the United States, they live in cloistered communities where members' behaviour is strictly controlled.  There are estimated 30,000 of them in North America and about 12,000 belong to the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints.  In Bountiful, about 500 people follow Jeffs and another 700 or so have remained loyal to Winston Blackmore, who was excommunicated by Jeffs nearly four years ago.     Read more
 
 
'Lost Boys,' other FLDS teens lobby lawmakers
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, January 20, 2007

They walked through the halls of power like high school students on a field trip.  The reality, though, is that most of these teens who left "the Creek" never made it past the eighth grade.  "We weren't allowed to go to the public schools," said "Sherrie," who ran away from the Fundamentalist LDS Church at age 16.  Teens who ran away or were kicked out of the polygamous enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., came to the state Capitol complex Friday to share their heartbreaking stories and plead with lawmakers for money to help fund housing and to purchase clothing and food for other children in their situation.  "If we can get some help from the government, imagine the difference it can make in these kids' lives," said Kevin Black, who was kicked out of the FLDS Church at age 17.  Many of the children have been dubbed "Lost Boys" — teenage boys that have been kicked out of the FLDS Church for committing a "sin," such as wearing short-sleeved shirts.  The girls are never ousted; they run away.  "The girls are considered a commodity," said Shannon Price, director of the Diversity Foundation, which helps children who leave the border towns.  Each week, one or two teens are reported to have left "the Creek," the nickname for the border towns stemming from the former name of the community, once called Short Creek.     Read more
 
 
Measure would assist 'Lost Boys'
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The cries of help for the so-called "Lost Boys" of polygamy are being heard on Utah's Capitol Hill.  A southern Utah lawmaker wants to provide money for transitional services for "abused, neglected or dependent children of bigamist families."  HB468 would require the Division of Child and Family Services to provide or contract out transitional services.  The legislation would appropriate $250,000 with no expiration date.  The bill is being sponsored by House Majority Leader David Clark, R-Santa Clara, who heard the stories of teenagers who either ran away or were kicked out of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  A group of teens who were kicked out of the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., came to the Capitol to plead for money last month.  Teenage boys told of being urged to "repent from a distance" by FLDS leaders.  "They're from good families that had to make a horrible decision about exiling the child," Shannon Price, director of the Diversity Foundation, said Tuesday.  FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is facing criminal charges in Utah and Arizona, accusing him of forcing teenage girls into marriages with older men.  Some teenagers kicked out of the FLDS communities have found themselves on the streets, crashing at "party houses," becoming addicted to drugs and getting involved in crimes.  Many don't have anything beyond an eighth-grade education.     Read more
 
 
'Lost Boys' settle lawsuit against UEP
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, April 6, 2007

A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against the Fundamentalist LDS Church's financial arm, filed by a group of young men cast out of the polygamist church.  Attorneys for the so-called "Lost Boys" reached a deal Thursday with lawyers for the court-controlled United Effort Plan Trust.  It calls for them to receive $250,000 through an education and emergency fund, and 21 acres in property in the FLDS enclave of Hildale, Washington County.  A sexual abuse lawsuit filed by the nephew of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is also part of that settlement.  "They have always seen their claims against the Trust as being about solving problems, not seeking money," lawyer Roger Hoole said in a statement.  The settlement requires court approval.  Attorneys are expected to file a motion to approve the deal with a judge today.  The young men — Richard Jessop Ream, Thomas Samuel Steed, Don Ronald Fischer, Dean Joseph Barlow, Walter Scott Fischer and Richard Gilbert — sued Jeffs, the FLDS Church and the UEP Trust in 2004, claiming they were kicked out of their community and separated from their families.  The lawsuit prompted more scrutiny of the FLDS Church and the UEP Trust, which controls homes, businesses and property in the towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.  In 2005, a judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court seized control of the UEP, after allegations that Jeffs and other top FLDS leaders had been fleecing it.  "Without the 'Lost Boys,' the court would not have intervened, the fiduciary would not have been appointed, the Trust would not have been reformed," said Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the UEP Trust.     Read more
 
 
Murray teen shot in head; boyfriend arrested
By Kerry Kinsey
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast April 8, 2007

A 15-year-old Murray girl is in extremely critical condition after being shot by her boyfriend early Saturday morning.  The boyfriend, 18-year-old Parley Dutson, was arrested for attempted homicide.  Witnesses say a small party was going at Willow Cove Apartments in West Jordan.  The girl called a friend to help her reason with her boyfriend, but Dutson didn't recognize his friend.  He told him "get out of my house before I shoot you."  He shot, hitting his girlfriend in the back of the head.  Neighbors living in the complex told ABC 4, this is the fourth violent incident in this complex in the last year.  Police are still trying to find a motive in the shooting.
 
 
Teenage Shooting Victim Dies
FOX 13 News
Originally broadcast April 9, 2007

The teenage victim of a shooting in West Jordan died overnight, according to West Jordan Police.  The yet-to-be identified teen was allegedly shot by her boyfriend.  Parley Dutson is in the Salt Lake County jail, originally booked on attempted murder charges, those charges will likely change.  Police say the shooting happened at a party.  They say the couple was not arguing and they don't know the motive.
 
 
Expert: Mushrooms Not Likely Responsible for Murder
Amanda Butterfield Reporting
KSL 5 TV
Originally broadcast April 9, 2007

The West Jordan woman who lost her daughter in a shooting says the girl's boyfriend did it because he was high on hallucinogenic mushrooms.  However, we talked with a man who is one of the top drug investigators in the state and found it's a drug that isn't very potent and does not cause violent outbursts.  Charles Illsley worked in the police force for 25 years.  He says mushrooms are not that big of a problem in Utah.  "It's such an unusual drug, and it's not highly sought after," he said.  Psilocybin is the chemical that causes hallucinations, and it gives the user a mild trip.  Illsley said, "It does not cause violent reactions in the brain, and violent behavior is not a foreseeable outcome of psilocybin."  The mother of Kara Hopkins told the Salt Lake Tribune that her daughter's boyfriend was high on mushrooms when he shot her Saturday morning.  West Jordan police went to the Willow Cove apartments and found Hopkins shot in the back of the head.  A helicopter flew her to the hospital in very critical condition.  She died that day.  Police arrested 18-year-old Parley Dutson and charged him with attempted homicide.  We tried to reach Hopkins' mother, but she did not want to talk with media today.     Read more
 
 
Court Documents Reveal Gruesome Details of Deadly Shooting
Gene Kennedy Reporting
KSL 5 TV
Originally broadcast April 10, 2007

Court documents paint a horrifying picture of the night a 15-year-old girl was killed.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports Kara Hopkins' boyfriend ripped her clothes off at a party after he allegedly shot her in the head.  Witnesses say Hopkins was partying with several others at the Willow Cove apartments in West Jordan over the weekend.  Court documents say her boyfriend, 18-year-old Parley Dutson, pushed her against a wall and told her to have sex with him.  When she resisted, witnesses say Dutson pulled out a black revolver and shot her in the back of the head.   Witnesses say Dutson then continued to remove Hopkins' clothes.  When apartment security entered the unit, they say she was naked from the waist down and Dutson was in a sexual position with her.  An affidavit indicates Dutson told security he was intentionally trying to rape her.  The victim's mother tells Eyewitness News Dutson was high on hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana at the time.  But a narcotics expert we talked with says mushrooms do not cause violent outbursts.     Read more
 
 
Accused man has ties to FLDS towns
By Pat Reavy
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The man accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend during a weekend party in West Jordan has ties to the Fundamentalist LDS communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  But support groups who help people who have been kicked out of those cities say the majority of the so-called "Lost Boys" are law-abiding, drug-free citizens.  Police say 18-year-old Parley J. Dutson shot and killed 15-year-old Kara Hopkins early Saturday morning in his apartment near 9300 S. Redwood Road.  Dutson, who had been smoking marijuana and taking hallucinogenic mushrooms, according to witnesses, shot Hopkins after she refused to have sex with him, according to court documents.  Dutson remained in the Salt Lake County Jail on Tuesday on $300,000 bail for investigation of attempted aggravated murder, a charge that will be increased once the case is screened by the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office.  Both Hopkins and Dutson lived in southern Utah.  Hopkins had moved to Murray within the past few months.     Read more
 
 
Man Who Allegedly Murdered Teen Is FLDS 'Lost Boy'
Brian Mullahy Reporting
KUTV Channel 2
Originally broadcast April 13, 2007

(KUTV) SALT LAKE CITY - He's charged with murder in the death of his 15-year-old girlfriend, but what's the 'lost boy' connection to 18-year-old Parley Dutson?  Dutson is a so-called 'lost boy' who, like so many other teens, had been kicked out of the polygamous towns of Hildale and Colorado City.  Some believe they were ordered exiled at the hand of jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  We spoke to a 'lost boy' from the FLDS community who refused to be identified.  He says he was kicked out of the dusty polygamy outposts at 14.  "I lived in the same house as Parley for about six months, working with him," says the boy.  Reading only at a first grade level he took up with Parley Dutson and other lost boys in Las Vegas before moving to the Salt Lake Valley where last weekend, Dutson is accused of demanding sex, then killing Kara Hopkins.     Read more
 
 
Man in April 7 slaying appears in court
By Pat Reavy
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The man accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend after she refused to have sex with him made his first appearance in court Monday.  Parley Jeffs Dutson, 18, was charged in West Jordan's 3rd District Court with criminal homicide and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies, in the death of 15-year-old Kara Hopkins.  Hopkins and Dutson were at a party April 7 at the Willow Cove Apartments near 9300 S. Redwood Road.  Dutson, who had been smoking marijuana, according to witnesses, became angry at Hopkins when she refused his advances.  When a security guard entered the apartment after Hopkins was shot, he found her with most of her clothes ripped off and Dutson next to her in his underwear saying he wanted to have sex with her until she was dead, according to court documents.  Monday, wearing a blue jump suit from the Salt Lake County Jail, orange sneakers and his hands and legs in shackles, Dutson answered "yes" and "no" to standard questions Judge Royal Hansen asked all defendants such as the need for a court-appointed attorney.  Bail was set at $500,000.  The court said it would appoint an attorney for Dutson.  His next court appearance was scheduled for April 26.  No friends or family members of either Dutson or Hopkins appeared to be at Monday's brief hearing.
 
 
Trial set in killing of teen
By Pat Reavy
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WEST JORDAN — An 18-year-old man accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend during a party at his apartment after she refused to have sex with him has been bound over for trial.  During a preliminary hearing Wednesday, 3rd District Judge Terry Christiansen found there was sufficient probable cause to advance the case against Parley Jeffs Dutson on the charges of criminal homicide and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies.  He is accused of killing 15-year-old Kara Hopkins at the Willow Cove Apartments near 9300 S. Redwood Road on April 7.  During Wednesday's preliminary hearing, four people who were at Dutson's apartment the night of the shooting, including cousins and long-time friends, gave similar accounts of Dutson being high from taking hallucinogenic mushrooms and smoking marijuana prior to the shooting.  Each gave similar accounts of Dutson being paranoid about someone named "Curtis" who was coming over to the apartment to "get him," prompting him to carry a gun in his waistband for 30 to 45 minutes before the slaying.     Read more
 
 
Hearing postponed in April shooting death
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A pretrial conference for Parley Jeffs Dutson, who is charged with shooting his girlfriend to death, has been postponed and a status conference has been set for July 26.  Dutson, 19, is charged with murder and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies.  The charges stem from an April 7 incident in which police say Dutson killed Kara Hopkins, 15, after she refused to have sex with him.  His defense attorney told 3rd District Judge Royal Hansen on Tuesday that he needed more time to get discovery information from prosecutors and that he also intended to file pretrial motions.  Dutson is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail.
 
 
Home for 'Lost Boys'
St. George shelter to help those outsted from FLDS communities
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Monday, July 30, 2007

ST. GEORGE — The kids call it "the house just off Bluff."  The eight-bedroom home located just off Bluff Street doesn't have a formal name, but it will soon become a haven for some of the so-called "Lost Boys."  They are teens who have either been kicked out or run away from Short Creek — the Fundamentalist LDS Church enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  "It'll work just right," says Ben, who asked that his last name not be used.  He left the FLDS Church at 18.  Leaning against a door frame, he looked around, surveying the home's potential.  "This'll be good," he says.  Michelle Benward shows off the shelter with pride.  "This is our welcoming area," she says, walking briskly from one room into another.  "This will be a dining room."  Right now, the residence is empty.  The only appliance is an old, beat-up stove.  "We're going to give kids a place to transition from one community into the next safely," she said.     Read more
 
 
On Their Own: FLDS exiles learn to cope with life after polygamy
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published August 18, 2007

(Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series on the young men and women who either leave or are asked to leave the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., a community made up mostly of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The names used in this story have been changed to protect the identities of those who spoke about their lives. Please see tomorrow's edition of The Spectrum & Daily News for the final installation of the series.)

HURRICANE - Marc can still remember the events that took place on Feb. 18, 2004.  After a long day working, he was cooking up spicy lemon chicken for his dinner when two of his brothers said they had to have a talk.  His brothers informed him he had to leave, not just leave home, but the community where he had lived since third grade.  Going up to his bedroom, Marc found his mother crying while packing his belongings.  Marc was only 17 years old with a sixth-grade education when his world collapsed and he joined many other young men and women who were no longer found as desirable residents of Colorado City - a community primarily made up of followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints where the members practice polygamy as one of their tenets.     Read more
 
 
Life in the Creek
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published August 19, 2007

(EDITOR'S NOTE - This is the second installment of a two-part series on the young men and women who either leave or are asked to leave the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City a community made up of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The names have been changed to protect the identities of those who shared their stories.)

HURRICANE - Since the community once known as Short Creek was settled in the early 1930s, the twin cities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale have been through turmoil, from a 1953 raid where all the men practicing polygamy were rounded up and arrested to the recent hunt for the community's religious leader Warren Steed Jeffs, which ended a year ago.  The community, made up of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has had five primary leaders.  Until recently, the community, although different by many people's standards, lived, worked and worshiped together as a whole.  The FLDS church, which claims polygamy as one of its tenets, is not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which denounced polygamy in 1890.  Yet changes in church leadership brought about changes in the community and many, reportedly judged unworthy in the eyes of Jeffs, were told to leave.  In a sense those - especially the young people - who either choose or are told to leave, are caught between two worlds and struggle when forced to adapt to life outside of Hildale and Colorado City.     Read more
 
 
Not lost, just displaced
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published August 22, 2007

Being cast out from the only life you've every known, away from family and friends and with little education and street-wise smarts to get through day-to-day living has got to be a terrifying experience for a young person.  This has happened to an estimated 1,000 teens in less than a decade from the polygamous twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City.  It is a social issue that affects the entire state.  Utah should respond with no less than all the adequate resources needed to assist these youth.  Help for these displaced members of society has been less than modest.  Housing, food, clothing and referrals for jobs and educational opportunities have been primarily done out of the kindness and generosity of individuals and non-profit organizations.  We applaud the goodness of the Hope Organization, New Frontiers for Families and countless anonymous donors that have gone beyond all expectations to offer these less fortunate kids a second chance at life.  Their exiled existence is unfathomable.  The thought of a 15-year-old boy being commanded to leave the confines of his community to repent because he chose to wear short sleeves or listen to pop music is unfathomable.  Just as it is unconscionable reasoning for a 16-year-old girl who did not wear her hair in braids or ventured into trying mascara on her eyelashes being forcibly ousted from the only place she had ever known to be home.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' 'lost boys' find themselves in strange world
From Dan Simon and Amanda Townsend
CNN
Originally published September 7, 2007

Editor's note: CNN agreed not to use the last name of the "lost boy" in this piece.

ST. GEORGE, Utah (CNN) -- Franky admits he's conflicted about the life of polygamy he has left behind along with the nearly three dozen brothers and sisters he's banished from seeing.  He also has mixed feelings about the man he once considered a religious prophet, polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs.  Jeffs, he says, was good to him.  He taught him the values of family and the need for structure.  "He ain't what everybody portrays him to be," the 21-year-old says.  But still Franky rejected Jeffs' polygamous lifestyle and the teachings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS).  He's now trying to make it on his own, one of the estimated 400 so-called "lost boys" who were kicked out of Jeffs' sect or left on their own.  It's not a term he particularly likes or embraces.  "I'm not lost, because I ain't running around in a circle.  No, thank you," he says.  He pauses to ponder what the term might mean.  "Lost in the head? Lost as in: They don't know how to cope with it and deal with it and move on?"     Read more
 
 
Boys Cast Out by Polygamists Find Help
By Erik Eckholm
The New York Times
Originally published September 9, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Woodrow Johnson was 15, and by the rules of the polygamous sect in which his family lived, he had a vice that could condemn them to hell: He liked to watch movies.  When his parents discovered his secret stash of DVDs, including the "Die Hard" series and comedies, they burned them and gave him an ultimatum.  Stop watching movies, they said, or leave the family and church for good.  With television and the Internet also banned as wicked, along with short-sleeve shirts — a sign of immodesty — and staring at girls, let alone dating them, Woodrow made the wrenching decision to go.  And so 10 months ago, with only a seventh-grade education and a suitcase of clothes, he was thrown into an unfamiliar world he had been taught to fear.  Over the last six years, hundreds of teenage boys have been expelled or felt compelled to leave the polygamous settlement that straddles Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.  Disobedience is usually the reason given for expulsion, but former sect members and state legal officials say the exodus of males — the expulsion of girls is rarer — also remedies a huge imbalance in the marriage market.  Members of the sect believe that to reach eternal salvation, men are supposed to have at least three wives.  State officials say efforts to help them with shelter, foster care or other services have been frustrated by the boys' distrust of government and fear of getting their parents into trouble.     Read more
 
 
Red tape threatens home for 'Lost Boys'
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published September 15, 2007

ST. GEORGE — The smell of fresh paint is in the air as one walks through the door, stepping onto stone tile still being laid on the ground.  Electrical fixtures are being installed, and mixed and matched pieces of furniture are everywhere.  This home near Bluff Street will be a new shelter for the so-called "Lost Boys," teenagers kicked out of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  That is, if they can navigate their way through government bureaucracy to get the home licensed and approved in time for its scheduled Oct. 4 opening.  "I can't put any kids in here.  I have five kids, and three more 17-year-olds.  What do you do?"  Michelle Benward said as she walked through the home Friday.  Benward is the clinical director of Garfield County-based New Frontiers for Families, a nonprofit social service group.  It and the Diversity Foundation have put together this home for teenage boys who have either run away from or been kicked out of the FLDS enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  "Every week, I get a new kid," Benward said of the growing number of teens leaving the polygamous border towns.  Advocacy groups estimate there are as many as 1,000 of these Lost Boys.  The ones kicked out commit "sins" like wearing too short of a shirt, kissing a girl or refusing to marry.  Those who leave say they're tired of the rigid structures of the FLDS faith.  Many say their families won't speak to them, afraid of the other children and their eternal salvation within the FLDS Church.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy's 'Lost Boys' make their own group home
The Associated Press
Times Record News - Wichita Falls, Texas
Originally published Monday, September 17, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah — With hammers, saws, drills and determination, about 15 young males displaced from their homes in a polygamous enclave are helping renovate a group house where they hope to live while going to school or work until they can transition into their own places.  "All the (remodeling) work is being done by the boys," said Michelle Benward, clinical director of New Frontiers for Families, based in Tropic, Utah.  "They do excellent work."  The "Lost Boys," as the young males are known, voluntarily leave or are asked to move out of the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., because they violated rules of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Their plight has attracted national media attention -- which led to potential jurors for Warren S. Jeffs' trial, under way in St. George, being asked what they had seen in the media about the "Lost Boys."  Jeffs is on trial on two counts of being an accomplice to rape related to a marriage he conducted in 2001.  Jeffs became president of the FLDS church in 2002 and has held members to a strict behavior code based on early Mormon teachings.  But just how many teens have left or been asked to leave the community because of that code is unclear.  Advocates and government authorities have used figures ranging from 400 to 2,000 over a time frame that ranges from six to 10 years or longer.  "This is not just starting with Warren Jeffs," said ex-FLDS member Isaac Wyler, 41, who still lives in the community.  "Warren may have taken it to a new level but it was going on when I was a kid."     Read more
 
 
The Exiled Children of Utah
By Hilary Hylton/St. George, Utah
TIME Magazine
Originally published September 24, 2007

Warren Jeffs, head of the breakaway polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), is now on trial in a St. George, Utah, court, charged with being an accomplice to rape, forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her first cousin and ignoring her claims of marital rape. But no matter Jeffs' ultimate fate — and he faces other charges in Arizona and federal court — the saga of broken young lives will continue. While this first case focused on the marriage of a young girl, many young boys' lives have been severely affected by the FLDS and the Utah trial opened a window into their sad stories.

Take Merril Shapley, who testified last week. He was unsure, nervous and scared as he sat in the witness box just feet from the man he regarded as The Prophet. Warren Jeffs had chosen Shapley's wife, announced it to them both and within hours had presided over their marriage. Shapley, 24, a construction worker, had been called by the defense to persuade the jury that "Uncle Warren" was a gentle man who helped steer young couples through troubled marital waters.

Clearly nervous when asked to spell his name, Shapley slowly said "M...E...R...R...I....L" punctuating each letter with a swallow. He had left school at eight years old to join his father's construction crew, he said, and works as a framer in booming southeastern Utah, building townhouses for retirees and outlet malls for tourists. Like most FLDS members, he was not accustomed to conversation with strangers.     Read more
 
 
St. George drop-in center, home for 'Lost Boys' opens
But no one can live there because of zoning problems
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published October 4, 2007

A home for teens who have been kicked out of or run away from the Fundamentalist LDS Church will open today, but no one will be allowed to live there for at least a few weeks — if not months.  That's because bureaucratic red tape in St. George has stalled efforts to get the drop-in center for the so-called "Lost Boys" properly licensed and zoned.  "It takes too long to do the right thing," said Michelle Benward, who is helping to put together the home.  "I'm hopeful they'll make the right decision for these kids and quickly, because we need this."  Benward, the clinical director for the nonprofit social service group New Frontiers for Families, has been trying to get the home opened to shelter the Lost Boys.  An anonymous donor bought the house and made it a donation for the teenagers.  The eight-bedroom "house just off Bluff," as it's called, is a former care center for senior citizens.  Many of the teenage boys who will now be living there have put in hours of labor to remodel it, so it can serve as a combination drop-in center and sometime-housing.  Skilled in construction, they have put in new flooring, new appliances, new fixtures and new paint.  Community donations have filled the home with furniture.  "I've been born and raised in a community that requires daily service anyway," said Frankie, a 21-year-old man who was ousted from the FLDS Church three years ago.  He asked that his last name not be used.  "It's peace of mind that finally I can be a part of something big. The last few years, I feel like I've been shut down and haven't been a part of anything that's been a blessing to others," he said.     Read more
 
 
Lost Boy Fund Helping Polygamist Sect Kids
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published October 15, 2007

A fund for young people cast out of a southern Utah polygamous sect has helped about a dozen since it was created two months ago.  So far, $6,600 has been spent on school tuition, books, a desk, appliances, utilities and car insurance.  A woman who was a possible witness in a criminal trial against sect leader Warren Jeffs received clothing.  It's "just ramping up," attorney Roger Hoole said.  "We're interested in helping more people."  The $250,000 Lost Boys Fund was part of a settlement of lawsuits filed by seven young men against the United Effort Plan Trust, the financial arm of Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Six claimed they were cast out of the church by Jeffs, the FLDS president.  The seventh man claimed he was sexually abused.  Neither the church nor Jeffs responded to the lawsuits, and the claims were never proved in court.  But the trust, now controlled by a court-appointed accountant, approved the settlement.  The seven men were awarded land, and the fund was established to help young people cut off from the FLDS community.  Many more say they left or were kicked out because of conflicts over strict FLDS rules and religious doctrine.     Read more
 
 
Trial date set in girl's slaying
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, November 2, 2007

WEST JORDAN — A March 2008 trial date has been set for a young man accused of killing and then sexually assaulting his girlfriend at a party.  During a brief court appearance in 3rd District Court on Thursday, Parley Jeffs Dutson, 19, was ordered to stand trial for first-degree felony murder and aggravated sexual assault beginning March 11.  Dutson is accused in the April shooting death of 15-year-old Kara Hopkins.  Police said that during a party, Dutson was high from hallucinogenic mushrooms and marijuana.  He demanded sex from Hopkins, who refused.  Witnesses testified at his preliminary hearing that Dutson shot Hopkins in the back of the head as she walked away from him.
 
 
Utah diary - Going west
How Mormon history parallels America's
Correspondent's Diary
The Economist
Originally published November 9, 2007

Friday

DRIVING across Utah, I am struck by the majestic scenery, the wide open spaces and the realisation that the early Mormons covered it all on foot.  Whizzing across the semi-desert in an air-conditioned car is quite restful.  With a music system that holds six CDs at a time, I don't even have to lift a finger to switch from "Carmen" to "La Bohθme".  Nineteenth-century Mormons had it somewhat tougher.  Back east, they were persecuted.  The governor of Missouri called for them to be exterminated or driven out.  After Joseph Smith, their prophet, was lynched in 1844, most of his followers went on a great Exodus westwards.  Many drove wagons over the Rocky Mountains into what is now Utah, where they founded Salt Lake City.  Some who could not afford wagons loaded their possessions onto wooden handcarts and pulled them all the way from Iowa—a distance of some 1,300 miles.  Many died en route.  A group of 1,000 got stuck in the Rockies and began to starve.  A mule train was sent up to rescue them, but some 200 died of cold or hunger, and many survivors had to have their frostbitten toes amputated.  I found the monument to these handcart trekkers outside the Temple, the most sacred building of the Mormon faith, profoundly moving.  It also reminded me how closely Mormon history mirrors America's.  The early Mormons, like the early American settlers, were devout pioneers who fled religious persecution.  They trekked westward in search of land and freedom.  They found both, and are now thriving.     Read more
 
 
Colorado City's "Lost Boys" need help
By Joe Dana
12 News - Phoenix
Originally broadcast November 23, 2007

Warren Jeffs is in prison, but the havoc he created continues.  Just ask social worker Michelle Benward.  She runs a group home in St. George, Utah for some of Colorado City's "lost boys."  The home is a refuge for dozens of young men who were banished from their families during Jeffs' rule.  Benward predicts there are hundreds of "lost boys" out there, spread out from Utah to Arizona to Nevada.  "They live together stacked in apartments, they're homeless, they're addicted to alcohol, they don't have a high school education," says Benward.  The young men are victims of Warren Jeffs cruel, "tough love" approach.  Several years ago, he instructed parents to dis-own their teen-age sons who were not precisely in-line with gospel teachings, investigators say.  Boys as young as fifteen years-old were kicked out onto the streets because they had kissed a girl, gone to the movies, or challenged authorities.  However, Mohave County investigator Gary Engel says the real reason for the boys' exile was because they posed competition to the older men who wanted to marry younger girls.  Benward says the state of Utah allocated 90 thousand dollars to provide social services for the exiled children from Colorado City.  "I know every non-profit needs help," Benward says.  "But it's not enough... I'm working more than a hundred hours a week and I'm paid for 25. I have volunteers helping, but it's just not effective enough."     Read more
 
 
Lost Boys' education aided by trust funds
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, January 15, 2008

One wants to be a doctor.  Two want to go into business.  Another wants to be a lawyer, and one wants to create video games.  These young men and young women exiled from the Fundamentalist LDS Church may be able to realize those dreams, thanks to a series of checks being cut by the court-appointed special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan Trust.  "The trust committed to paying $50,000 a year for education purposes to people in the community," Bruce Wisan said Monday.  The UEP Trust paid out $24,500 for a semester's worth of tuition for 16 kids.  It's through a fund set up as part of a lawsuit settlement with the so-called "Lost Boys," a group of young men who were kicked out of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  "One of the plaintiffs said he didn't want to take all of the money for himself," said Shannon Price, the director of the Diversity Foundation, which helps the Lost Boys.  "He wanted it for the benefit of everybody who was exiled."  In 2004, six young men sued the FLDS Church, then-leader Warren Jeffs and the UEP Trust, claiming their were kicked out of their community and separated from their families.  The UEP Trust settled its part of the lawsuit last year, creating an education fund and designating property in the polygamous border town of Hildale.     Read more
 
 
FLDS 'Lost Boys' home seeks funding
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Smith" said he was abandoned on a street in Hurricane after going to see a movie.  The 18-year-old from the Fundamentalist LDS enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., was left there when his father found out that he was there.  "He doesn't want me watching movies, I guess," said Smith, who asked the Deseret Morning News not to use his name.  "I decided to move away because it wasn't worth it. It's been going on for 10 years."  The young man has been out of the polygamist communities for five weeks now.  On Friday, he and about a dozen other so-called "Lost Boys" — kids who have been kicked out or run away from the FLDS Church — were meeting lawmakers and pushing for $315,000 to help the pay for a youth drop-in center in St. George.  The "House Just Off Bluff," as it's called, is being run by non-profits and volunteers putting in their own blood, sweat and tears.  The home would help kids transition to a life outside of Short Creek.  Advocates for these boys and girls claim there are more than 1,000 who are either kicked out, often because they commit a "sin," or run away.  They sleep on the streets or crash in apartments with others like them and are often under-educated and in danger of falling prey to drugs, alcohol and exploitation.     Read more
 
 
Bill targets polygamous communities who evict teens
The Associated Press
KIFI ABC Channel 8 - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Originally broadcast March 9, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - State lawmakers have passed a bill that's intended to crack down on child abandonment in the polygamous communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  A bill Gov. Jon Huntsman is expected to sign into law would make child abandonment a form of child abuse.  The bill is in response to teenagers known as "The Lost Boys," who have been kicked out of their communities.  Advocates say there are hundreds of teens who have either run away or been kicked out of the polygamous sect for a host of reasons, such as watching movies, kissing someone or wearing shirt sleeves too short.  Some left on their own, rather than live by the church's strict codes of conduct.

Information from: Deseret Morning News, http://www.deseretnews.com
 
 
'Lost Boys' dropping lawsuit against Jeffs, FLDS Church
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Six young men who sued the Fundamentalist LDS Church and its leader, Warren Jeffs, are dropping their lawsuit.  "My clients feel like they've accomplished what they needed to," their attorney, Roger Hoole, told the Deseret Morning News late Wednesday.  "The only thing left to go after is money, and that's not what they wanted."  The six filed court papers in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court seeking to dismiss the lawsuit they filed in 2004, accusing Jeffs and the FLDS Church of ousting them from the communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., and cutting them off from their families.  The young men became known as the "Lost Boys."  "We have met our goals," Walter Fischer, one of the original plaintiffs, said in a statement issued by his attorney on Wednesday.  "The only thing left to do is to go after money, and this case has never been about that."  According to Hoole, the young men succeeded in helping to separate the FLDS Church's real estate arm, the United Effort Plan Trust, from the polygamous sect.  In 2005, a judge took control of the $110 million trust amid allegations Jeffs and other top FLDS officials had mismanaged it.  "Doing this was critical to protect the FLDS people, who live in church-owned homes and are dependent on staying in the church's good favor for their housing," plaintiff Richard Gilbert said in the statement.     Read more
 
 
LDS polygamists unlike FLDS
Opinion
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, May 1, 2008

I know there are people who see no difference between the polygamy practices of the FLDS Church and the early LDS Church.

The question would be: Were there any "lost boys" in the early LDS Church — teenage and young adult males forced out of the church because their numbers were too high, as compared to the number of teenage and young adult females? I'm not the best-read guy, but I can find no evidence of that.

What does this mean? To me, it means early LDS polygamy was very different from the polygamy practiced by the FLDS Church.

Clark Roger Larsen
Tooele
 
 
'Lost Boys' watch Texas raid from afar
St. George center that helps former FLDS is scrambling for funds
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, May 12, 2008

ST. GEORGE — They have family members who have been separated from their parents.  Just like them.  The raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch in Texas has been difficult for some of the so-called "Lost Boys," teenagers who have been cast out or who ran away from the fundamentalist communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  From a distance, they are watching their families get caught up in the raid and its aftermath here in Utah.  "I don't think it's right to take all their kids away, even if it's one case of abuse — if there's even that," said Simon, who was asked to leave Short Creek (the name for Hildale and Colorado City).  "I really don't think there's as much abuse as they say there is. I mean, I wasn't abused."  The kids are feeling a lot of anxiety, fear and worry for their families, said Michelle Benward, the clinical director of New Frontiers for Families.  She runs the "House Just Off Bluff," a drop-in center — just off Bluff Street — for the "Lost Boys."  "Right now, we have a community that is in incredible crisis," Benward said.  "At the point of crisis, the resources should be put on the table to take care of the problem."  Using community and local church donations, a government grant and whatever money she can scrape together, Benward has helped create this home that acts as a sometime shelter for the young men.  They are provided education and support transitioning from one community to another.  Since it opened last year, advocates say the home has directly helped about 100 of the estimated 1,000 cast-out teens.  All of that is now in danger if more funding isn't secured to keep the home open.     Read more
 
 
Broken Ties
Seth Doane Reports On The Boys And Young Men Who Leave The FLDS
48 Hours
CBS News
Originally broadcast May 27, 2008

(CBS) They aren't all that far from home, but Frankie Johnson and Caleb Barlow couldn't be farther from their roots.  They were born into and grew up in the FLDS, until the need to escape pressed so hard there was nothing to do but leave everything behind.  Frankie, who grew up in Colorado City, left four years ago when he was 18 years old.  At the time, he says he was the oldest of 18.  Like Frankie, 18-year-old Caleb started to resent the endless regulations of the religion, like losing everyday freedoms as basic as being able to date girls.  The belief was that the outside world was evil, and that joining it brought punishment.  "Yeah, it was a fear," Caleb tells correspondent Seth Doene.  "I wondered if I was really going to go to hell."  Frankie and Caleb - and hundreds of other boys like them - ended up out of FLDS and in limbo, in places like Utah.  They've left home or been kicked out when they were barely teenagers.  Their refusal to conform to their religion's unbending social rules pushes them and their families to the edge.  Those that go are known as "The Lost Boys."  Their future and very survival are uncertain, and the only sure thing is that most of them can never go back to that secretive world. When Caleb decided to leave, his father made it clear he'd never be welcomed back.  "He grabbed my littlest brother and he just like shaking in my face, he's like 'You'll never see him again,'" Caleb remembers.  "He said we were better off dead than to leave."     Read more
 
 
Watch the video by Seth Doane of CBS News

 
 
Murder trial begins for FLDS 'Lost Boy'
Reported by: Susan Wood
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast Tuesday, June 17, 2008

WEST JORDAN, Utah (ABC 4 News) - A young man raised in the FLDS community is now on trial for murder.  Parley Jeffs Dutson is one of the so-called "Lost Boys," exiled as a teen from the polygamous community.  Now he is on trial for his former girlfriend's murder.  In court on Tuesday, disturbing details were released about what happened at a party last April where 15-year-old Kara Hopkins was shot after allegedly refusing sex.  Sometime around 2:30 a.m. on April 7, 2007, a seasoned security guard and his partner found a scene that still brings him to tears.  On the witness stand today, guard Cody Cross recounted seeing Dutson kneeling between the legs of the injured girl.  She was lying nearly naked and struggling for air after a single gunshot from behind.  Cross said Dutson chanted as he hovered over her.  Sometimes the words were unintelligible, but other times, they were very clear and included profanities and threats.  Cross said Dutson wouldn't follow commands and police ended up carrying him out of the apartment.  Officials tried to revive Hopkins, but her injury was too severe.     Read more
 
 
Trial Begins for Lost Boy Charged with Murdering Girlfriend
FOX 13 News
Originally broadcast June 18, 2008

WEST JORDAN, Utah - Opening arguments were held today in the murder trial of 19-year-old Parley Dutson, who is accused of killing his girlfriend.  Dutson was one of the so-called "lost boys."  He was raised in Hildale, but was expelled from the polygamist community.  Police say Dutson shot Kara Hopkins in the back of the head after she repeatedly refused to have sex with him at a party.  Witnesses say Duston had taken hallucinogenic mushrooms prior to the shooting.  The trial is expected to last several days.     See photo
 
 
Accounts of slaying spark tears
Man is on trial in shooting death of 15-year-old girl
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, June 18, 2008

WEST JORDAN — Courtroom spectators wept as a prosecutor and two witnesses described the ugly words they say Parley Jeffs Dutson chanted as he knelt by his nearly nude girlfriend who lay dying on an apartment floor gasping for breath after being shot in the head.  Dutson, 19, is charged with murder and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies, in connection with the April 7, 2007, death of Kara Hopkins, 15.  The pair had been a couple on and off for two years, and Hopkins was fatally injured at a party in an apartment Dutson shared with other young men. She was later pronounced dead at a hospital.  Prosecutor Rodwicke Ybarra described the evening's events in a matter-of-fact voice during opening statements to the seven-woman, three-man jury on Tuesday.  But when Ybarra related the vulgar and violent phrases Dutson was accused of mumbling over and over that night, including one about wanting to have sex with Hopkins until she was dead, one female juror clasped her hand over her mouth and some courtroom observers cried.  Ybarra said eyewitnesses reported that Dutson had tried to rip Hopkins' clothes off at the party, demanded in vulgar terms to have sex with her then and there, and grew angry when she resisted.  When she wouldn't submit to him immediately because others were present and she tried to dodge and weave away from him, the prosecutor said Dutson fired a gun at her in front of other young party-goers.  "He shot her and hit her in the back of the head with a bullet," Ybarra said.     Read more
 
 
News | The $50,000 Question: Utah's Attorney General explains campaign donations received from company his office brought fraud charges against
By Eric S. Peterson
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jean Welch Hill, Democratic challenger to Republican heavyweight Mark Shurtleff, believes it's time she took over as the state's attorney general. Hill counts many reasons why she should get the seat, including Shurtleff's courtship of the payday-loan industry and his conflict of interest in investigating the alleged bribery charges of political ally Mark Walker in the treasurer's race—and now she can count at least 50,000 more reasons.

That's one for each dollar Shurtleff accepted in campaign donations from Jeremy Johnson, president of the St. George company IWorks. While Shurtleff maintains that he only knew Johnson from meeting him once at a fund-raiser last March, several attorneys at the attorney general's office have known of Johnson for much longer. That's because they'd been involved in taking legal actions against his company for more than a year for allegations of fraud.

"If you've been involved in litigation with some company," says Hill. "Then you ought to have the discipline to say this isn't the best donation for me to accept."     Read more
 
 
Jury delivers guilty verdicts in Lost Boy murder trial
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A jury deliberated five hours late Tuesday before returning guilty verdicts on both counts in the murder trial of Parley Jeffs Dutson.  Made up of six women and two men, the jury returned at 9:15 p.m., with one female juror who walked in sobbing audibly and wiping her eyes.  Another woman covered her mouth when the verdict was read.  Dutson, 19, was charged with first-degree felony murder and aggravated sexual assault in 3rd District Court stemming from the April 7, 2007 death of Kara Hopkins.  The jury found him guilty of both offenses and Judge Royal Hansen set a tentative sentencing date of Aug. 22.  Prior to that, officials will conduct a pre-sentence investigation to determine sentencing recommendations.  The murder charge carries a potential sentence of 15 years to life.  The judge could impose a sentence ranging from 6, 10 years or 15 years to life on the aggravated sexual assault conviction.  Hopkins' family wept when the verdict was read, while Dutson showed no emotion, whispering something to his brother at the conclusion of the day's proceedings.  Prosecutors said Dutson gunned down his girlfriend after she refused his sexual advances during a night of partying.  The two had been a couple off and on for two years and Hopkins was killed at a West Jordan apartment Dutson shared with two other young men.     Read more
 
 
Dutson Found Guilty of Murder, Aggravated Sexual Assault
FOX 13 News
Originally broadcast July 2, 2008

The jury in the Parley Dutson trial returned a verdict Tuesday night, finding him guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated sexual assault.  The 19-year-old "lost boy" was accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend at a party in West Jordan in April of 2007.  Dutson will be sentenced on August 21.     See photo
 
 
Evaluation ordered for convicted 'Lost Boy'
By Pat Reavy
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Aug. 22, 2008

WEST JORDAN — The sentencing of a man convicted of killing his girlfriend after she refused to have sex with him was delayed this morning.  Instead, 3rd District Judge Royal Hansen ordered Parley Jeffs Dutson, 19, be sent to the Utah State Prison for a 60-day diagnostic evaluation to help determine how he should be sentenced.  Dutson was convicted in July of first-degree felony murder and aggravated sexual assault in the April 2007 death of Kara Hopkins.  Dutson is a "Lost Boy," or a person who grew up in the Fundamentalist LDS Church community in Colorado City, Ariz., Colorado City who either left or was kicked out of the community.  Members of Hopkins' family attended the hearing, expecting a sentence to be delivered so they could finally walk out of the courtroom with some closure.  "It's really frustrating and upsetting," said Heidi Neilson, a relative.  "They want to keep prolonging it, and it makes it harder and harder. I'm afraid he's going to get off or get seven years."  Dutson's murder charge carries a potential 15 years to life in prison.  The aggravated sexual assault conviction could get a sentence of either 6, 10 or 15-years-to-life.     Read more
 
 
Feature | Halfway Home: FLDS Lost Boys Find Life Begins at The House Just Off Bluff
By John Pike
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published August 28, 2008

Anyone who's spent much time here knows the simple two-story building with a white exterior and the gold-scripted "82" on the front door. Locals call it "the house just off Bluff."

Located near the intersection of 700 South and Bluff Street, the house has a big picture window looking out on a busy street zoned for homes and businesses. There's a small, concrete stoop in front and a driveway leading back to a detached wooden garage. A couple of bikes are parked there, but only one car. A full-size punching bag hangs from a corner of the garage. Two threadbare couches and a barbecue grill add a homey touch to the back yard.

This is a place for teenage boys — usually about a dozen at a time live at the house. Under city zoning rules, the house just off Bluff is defined as a homeless shelter. It's a safe spot and if all goes well, a halfway point to somewhere better: School, work and eventually, healthy adult relationships. For the past eight years, beginning when the boys started fleeing from the FLDS border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., the news media has called them the "lost boys." The boys themselves seem to understand the nickname is simply shorthand for a complex issue. But they dislike the name just the same.

They started showing up in St. George and other Washington County towns about the time their leader, Warren Jeffs, cracked down on the twin communities and severely limited sect members' exposure to the outside world. In 2000, Jeffs, considered the living prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, ordered all children removed from public schools. He wanted them home-schooled. Over the next few years, a legal net began to tighten around Jeffs for his alleged part in arranging marriages of underage girls to much older men. Convicted last year on two counts of rape as an accomplice, Jeffs is serving 10 years to life in the Utah State Prison.
Read more
 
 
FLDS 'Lost Boys' must leave St. George shelter
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008

Michelle Benward worries about what's going to happen to the kids.  "I've been doing this for more than five years. I know what they'll go back to," she said.  A St. George shelter for teens who have either run away or been kicked out of the Fundamentalist LDS Church is undergoing a rocky transition, leaving some of the so-called "Lost Boys" in danger of being homeless again.  Benward, who ran the House Just Off Bluff, has been fired.  She spoke to the Deseret News the day after being let go from her job.  The home is transitioning from a shelter to a youth drop-in center after it lost its state contract for not being properly zoned and licensed.  Since it was created more than a year ago, the home has sheltered teenagers from the FLDS communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  "We have to leave the house but nobody knows where they're going to go," said Simon Barlow, 21, who has been staying at the House Just Off Bluff while he goes to college.  St. George city leaders were not willing to change the zoning to allow for overnight stays.  That and licensing problems led to the current situation, said Tracy Johnson, the executive director of New Frontiers for Families, which manages the home.  Now she's trying to find host families for the boys still living at the House Just Off Bluff while keeping them in school.  "It's scary for people who have had such unstable living arrangements for them to have to think about moving again and making decisions," Johnson said.  "We're trying to meet with them as a team every other day to make sure that they're continuing to go to school and reassuring them we're trying as best we can."     Read more
 
 
NBC's 'Law & Order' will take on polygamy
By Scott D. Pierce
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008

"Law & Order" returns for its 19th season tonight (9 p.m., Ch. 5), and — defying all odds — it's still hitting on all cylinders.  Start watching tonight's episode and you won't be able to stop. It starts out with a dead Wall Street stockbroker and turns into an investigation of organized street fighting — then takes a turn into vigilante justice with all sorts of shades of gray.  Local viewers, however, will be even more interested in this season's fourth episode, scheduled to air Wednesday, Dec. 3.  It's titled "Lost Boys," and it's the latest episode of a prime-time TV show to involve polygamists, with multiple references to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It's also quite obvious that a whole lot of research went into this episode, which handles some very tough issues without climbing on a soapbox and pretending there are easy answers.  (Like, for example, last week's episode of "Boston Legal.")  Without giving away too much of the plot, the lost boys in the episode are exactly what local viewers would expect.  They are teenagers and young men in their 20s who have been thrown out of a polygamist community in the fictional community of Boyd Canyon, Ariz.  There's a disclaimer on the front end of the episode declaring, "The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event."  But, as "Law & Order" has been doing for more than 400 episodes, it takes real-life events and adapts them.  And, quite obviously, Boyd Canyon, Ariz. — home of the fictional Church of the True Path — is standing in for Colorado City, Ariz., and the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  Without giving too much of the plot away, one of the lost boys is murdered in the opening scenes of the episode.  The detectives come to the erroneous conclusion that the young men involved in the case are Mormon because of homemade markings on their T-shirts (and information from a Web site).  And some of the language that detective Bernard (Anthony Anderson) uses is downright offensive to faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — although it's said in ignorance.     Read more
 
 
'Law & Order' episode to focus on polygamy
By Paul McHardy
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast November 6, 2008

An upcoming episode of a long-running television series could ruffle some feathers in the LDS community.  Entering its 19th season, NBC's "Law & Order" is renowned for taking on controversial issues.  The latest on the laundry list is polygamy.  Episode four is titled "Lost Boys," featuring the murder of a teenage boy thrown out of a polygamous compound.  Characters are identified as Mormons by the markings on their clothes, and one of the main characters, Detective Bernard, says some things LDS Church members might find offensive.  But another character does clear up the misconceptions.  The episode is set to air Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 9 p.m. on KSL.

E-mail: pmchardy@ksl.com
 
 
Polygamy pic gets infusion of cash
By Cody Clark
Provo Daily Herald
Originally published Thursday, November 13, 2008

The nearly finished documentary "Sons of Perdition" was given a welcome Halloween treat at the end of October.  The film is one of seven documentary projects chosen to receive an award of "finishing funds," or cash intended to help the filmmakers complete production, from the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund of the Tribeca Film Institute, affiliated with the popular Tribeca Film Festival.  "Sons of Perdition," directed by Utah residents Tyler Meason and Jennilyn Merten, chronicles the experiences of strong-willed teenagers, the disillusioned children of polygamous marriages, who've been disowned by their families and religious communities.  Measom is the former director of the short-lived Utah Family Film Festival, and was a partner with festival founder Brady Whittingham in the revival of discount moviegoing at the now-defunct Festival Cinemas in Orem.
 
 
Doctor provides hope for youth who have left polygamy
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast January 18, 2009

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (ABC 4 News) -- Doctor Dan Fischer presides over a multimillion dollar dental company as well as a foundation that spends a portion of that money.  Ultradent of South Jordan makes money and the Diversity Foundation spends money.  And how it spends money has earned Dr. Fisher both admiration and anger.  Through the foundation, Dr. Fischer helps "lost boys."  These are young men who have been kicked out of the FLDS polygamist community.  Dr. Fischer says these boys have lost everything - friends, family, and community - and are ill prepared to face the outside world.  He has helped them in various ways over the years, but his primary goal remains the same: help them get an education.  "That's been the most important message and mission of the diversity foundation ... helping them get knowledge. Knowledge is power."     Read more
 
 
Attorneys seek new trial for convicted killer
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, Feb. 21, 2009

WEST JORDAN — Defense attorneys are seeking a new trial for a man convicted of murder and sexual assault after learning that a juror failed to tell the court she had been the victim of a rape.  A judge questioned Juror 25 Friday in 3rd District Court.  The woman says she did not mean to mislead anyone or hide the assault, which occurred when she was 15.  She says the incident was not reported to police and she does not consider herself a victim.  The incident was disclosed during jury deliberations in the July 2008 trial of Parley Jeffs Dutson.  Duston was convicted of two first-degree felonies for the April 2007 death of his girlfriend.  Defense attorneys say the omission amounts to misconduct and Dutson should get a new trial.  Another hearing on the issue is scheduled for May 4.
 
 
Judge may schedule new trial in murder case
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, May 4, 2009

WEST JORDAN – Third District Judge Royal Hansen said he will decide by June 10 whether to schedule a new trial or impose a sentence for Parley Jeffs Dutson, who was convicted of shooting his girlfriend to death two years ago.  A jury convicted Dutson of murder and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies, in July 2008.  He fatally shot Kara Hopkins, 15, in 2007 after she rejected his demands and forceful attempts to have sex while surrounded by a number of young people at a party.  Dutson was then high on alcohol and a tea brewed from psychedelic mushrooms.  Defense attorneys say Dutson deserves a new trial because one female juror did not disclose during jury selection that she had been raped at age 15.  The matter came up during deliberations about Dutson's fate.  The woman subsequently told the court that she did not think of the issue during jury selection and does not consider herself a crime victim.  Defense attorney McCaye Christianson told the judge Monday it was "highly unlikely" this juror would have served on the jury if she had disclosed that she had been the victim of a crime, especially a sexual crime that bore many similarities to what happened to Hopkins.  Christianson acknowledged a new trial would entail a "huge outlay" of time and resources, but said Dutson is not responsible for a serious flaw in his trial that previously was unknown to defense attorneys, prosecutors and the judge.  "Mr. Dutson is not the one who should bear the loss or suffer the consequence," she said.  "He deserves a fair trial before an impartial jury."     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' Nephew Breaks Silence
Hannity
Fox News
Originally broadcast Thursday, May 21, 2009

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: It has been two years since fundamentalist polygamist leader Warren Jeffs headed to jail for marrying off a minor to her own cousin. But his acts of terror are still being brought to light by the people who trusted him the most.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY (voice-over): These were the images the world saw of an insulated community rocked by horrific abuse at the hands of a man who calls himself a prophet.

In 2007, Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was sentenced to two terms of five years to life after being convicted of forcing a child into marriage. It was that sentencing that would mark the close of one man's bitter battle against his own uncle and the church that he once belonged to.

In his new book, "Lost Boy," Brent Jeffs opens up about his life in the FLDS community and how he helped bring down his uncle, Warren Jeffs.

Brent grew up in a polygamist family with three mothers and over 20 brothers and sisters. He recounts hours of brain-washing church services, the strict rules on what you could wear, and how you could and could not act. He reveals that they would even receive death threats that God would strike them down if anyone didn't follow the prophet's decrease.

But although the crimes against young girls and women were exposed after his conviction, the history of the FLDS, quote, "lost boys" stayed underground. In the book, Brent Jeffs opens up about his molestation, starting at the age of 5, at the hands of his own uncle, a ritual that he would later come to finds out was performed on many boys in the church.     Read more
 
 
'Lost Boy' tells of his life in FLDS Church
By Emiley Morgan
Deseret News
Originally published Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Lost Boy" by Brent W. Jeffs, Broadway Books, 235 pages, $25  He looks like any other 20-something you'd pass on the street.  Short, dark hair, striped button-down shirt, sunglasses, jeans.  He comes from a large family, but that's not uncommon in Utah.  That is, until you realize just how big his family is.  Brent Jeffs, grandson of polygamist Rulon Jeffs and nephew of Warren Jeffs, grew up in the Fundamentalist LDS Church and has a new book on his experience, titled "Lost Boy."  The book chronicles his childhood within the FLDS Church and the struggles he faced after leaving it.  Spurred to action by the deaths of two of his brothers, who fell victim to drug and alcohol abuse after leaving the FLDS Church, Jeffs said he committed his life to reaching out to others who have defected from — and been abused by — the FLDS Church.  "When my brother told me what happened to him and then he passed away, that's when it was like a volcano," Jeffs said.  "I just said ... I'm going to go put 110 percent into this thing and go all the way with this, and I am blown away that I am here now in this point in my life, that it has gone this far."  Because his history is graphic with accounts of sexual abuse, Jeffs said his family initially reacted with hesitation and fear, even though his parents and all but two siblings have left the FLDS Church.     Read more
 
 
Juror omission results in new murder trial
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, May 28, 2009

Parley Jeffs Dutson, who was convicted by a jury last year of sexually assaulting and killing his girlfriend, should get a new trial, according to the judge who presided over the original trial.  Third District Judge Royal Hansen on Thursday granted Dutson a new trial primarily because a female juror failed to disclose she had been a rape victim years earlier.  Hansen concluded in a 14-page ruling that this omission created a violation of Dutson's constitutional right to a fair trial with an impartial jury.  "The juror was unable to apply the law due to her actual bias, or at the very least, bias should be inferred under the circumstances," the judge wrote.  Dutson, 20, was charged with murder and aggravated sexual assault, both first-degree felonies, in connection with the shooting death of his girlfriend, Kara Hopkins, 15, at a party in 2007.  A jury convicted him of both counts after a four-day trial in July 2008.  Dutson's attorneys wanted the conviction set aside after learning a female juror did not reveal during jury selection that she had been raped when she was a teenager.  The matter emerged during jury deliberation.  The woman later told the court she had not reported the rape because she simply did not think of it during jury selection and did not see herself as a victim.     Read more
 
 
FLDS 'Lost Boy' to appear live on Ch. 12
KPNX 12 News - Phoenix, Arizona
Originally published June 1, 2009

Brent Jeffs, author of "Lost Boy," will appear live today on 12 News to tell his story of growing up as a boy in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jeffs was born into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1983.  His grandfather Rulon was the church's prophet at the time and lived next door in a compound in the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City.  His uncle Warren was principle of the FLDS private school during those early years.  Brent Jeffs has written a book about his experiences within the FLDS and life after his family left the church, a family that at one time included three wives and nearly two dozen children.  "Lost Boy" details Brent Jeff's accounts of sexual abuse at the hand of Warren Jeffs who would one day become a self- proclaimed prophet of the FLDS.  The book also explains the trauma for families ousted from the church, many of them young male members who would have competed for wives in the polygamist sect.  Many of those so-called "lost boys" turned to drugs and other habits to fight the demons of the past.  Tune in to Ch. 12 today at 4:30pm to hear Jeffs illuminate on his experience.
 
 
Today's featured event: Go inside the FLDS compound with Brent Jeffs
By Susan Froyd
Things to Do
Westword - Denver, CO
Originally published June 3, 2009

Brent Jeffs lived the insider's life behind the closed gates of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the LDS splinter denomination once led by his polygamist uncle, Warren Jeffs, and dogged by controversy and rumors of sexual abuse.  But it wasn't pretty: From his vantage point, the younger Jeffs witnessed brainwashing, bullying and repeated molestation by his uncle that ended only after his family was excommunicated from the FLDS for the infraction of maintaining contact with relatives in the outside world.  His story of that nightmare and his ensuing redemption is detailed in a new memoir, Lost Boy, written with Maia Szalavitz, that brings to light what lies beyond the veneer of communal life and chaste women in pioneer garb we've all seen in the media.

Jeffs will discuss and sign the book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch, 9315 Dorchester Street.  For information go to www.tatteredcover.com or call 303-470-7050.     See book cover
 
 
FLDS warped lives, "Lost Boy" recounts
Compassion is urged toward the Mormon fundamentalist sect.
By Electa Draper
The Denver Post
Originally published June 14, 2009

Brent Jeffs was one tired-out ex-Mormon fundamentalist last week in Denver, but still a man on a mission.  Back-to-back book-signings and 17-hour days in Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Denver for Jeff's recently released memoir, "Lost Boy," alternately wound him up or wore him down to feeling like "a zombie," he said.  Jeffs juggles a day job with Ultradent dental products with a personal quest.  Brent, the 26-year-old nephew of Warren Jeffs, the convicted felon and former prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is determined to make known the extent of what he describes as his Uncle Warren's evil.  At the same time, Brent advocates for fair treatment of remaining members of the sect, which has several outposts in Colorado.  Brent wants people to know that forced underage marriages were not the only horrors under Warren Jeffs.  Brent years ago filed a civil lawsuit against Warren Jeffs in which he alleged that his uncle had raped him several times when he was in kindergarten and first grade.  Warren Jeffs used church tenets to satisfy his own perverse sexual appetites and to control every aspect of members' lives, Brent claims.  As prophet — the title the sect gave its leader — he banned almost all music and all literature except the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  He even banned dogs and, most infamously, ejected many young boys from FLDS families.  With Warren Jeffs now in the Utah State Prison after conviction on two counts of being an accomplice to rape, the sect's towns, such as Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, are coming back to a semblance of normal life, Brent said.  "Things are much more mellow there now," Brent said.     Read more
 
 
Murder re-trial postponed
By Michael R. McFall
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WEST JORDAN — Parley Jeffs Dutson's new attorney isn't ready to defend him, so the previously convicted man will have to wait several months before he can be tried for murder a second time.  Dutson was convicted last year for sexually assaulting and killing his girlfriend, both first-degree felonies, while he was high at a party.  But the court overturned his conviction after it was discovered that a juror had been raped when she was a teenager and did not disclose the crime during the jury vetting.  Judge Royal I. Hansen determined that her history compromised the integrity of the jury's decision, so Dutson must be tried again.  Since then, Dutson's defense attorney, Brian Gardner, has taken a job out of state, said Dutson's new attorney, Steven Howard.  Howard was assigned to the case last week and said he hasn't had a chance to comb through the four large boxes detailing the case's history and evidence.  Hansen set a trial date of Oct. 19-23.
 
 
Former 'Lost Boy' pleads guilty to killing girlfriend
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009

Parley Jeffs Dutson, who once was found guilty of killing his teenage girlfriend but had the verdict reversed on a technicality, has pleaded guilty to a charge of murder.  Dutson, 21, entered a guilty plea Tuesday to murder, a first-degree felony, for the 2007 shooting death of Kara Hopkins, 15, at a party.  As part of a plea bargain, a second charge of aggravated sexual assault, a first-degree felony, was dropped.  "We felt very strongly that he needed to be convicted of the homicide," said Alicia Cook, spokeswoman for the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office.  "We absolutely support the outcome, and we're glad to achieve that without having to go through another trial."  Dutson's defense lawyers contend Dutson was high at the time on liquor and a home-brewed tea of psychedelic mushrooms that impaired his judgment to such a degree that he was experiencing a "hallucinatory paranoid and irrational" level of fear and did not intend to kill the girl.  The aggravated sexual assault stemmed from information police provided prosecutors — that Dutson had been trying to tear Hopkins' clothing off and force her to have sex with him immediately, despite the presence of other people.  Prosecutors contended Dutson grew enraged when the girl resisted, and he then engaged in a cat-and-mouse game of pointing the gun at the girl as she moved and ducked trying to get away from him, then dropping the gun to his side, only to resume pointing it again.  The girl was shot in the back of the head, and witnesses testified that Dutson was chanting as he knelt next to her nearly naked body.     Read more
 
 
Man sentenced in girlfriend's homicide
By Linda Thomson
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

WEST JORDAN — Parley Jeffs Dutson, who shot and killed his 15-year-old girlfriend at a party two years ago, was sentenced to prison Wednesday.  Dutson, who is now 21, tearfully apologized to Patricia Hopkins, the mother of the deceased girl, Kara, as well as the court and the taxpayers who have footed the bill for a four-day trial, lengthy criminal proceedings and the 945 days Dutson already has spent in jail.  "I'd like to give my life to bring Kara back," he said, wiping tears from his eyes.  Third District Judge Royal Hansen sentenced Dutson to 15 years to life for murder, a first-degree felony.  "One of the tragedies of this case is we can do nothing to restore the life of Kara Hopkins," the judge said.  Meanwhile, Patricia Hopkins struggled to contain her emotions as she grappled with grief over her slain daughter and the clearly mixed feelings she has for Dutson, a family friend, who took Kara's life.  "The world is missing a wonderful girl — she was beautiful and smart," the mother said as she clutched a framed photograph of her daughter.  Patricia Hopkins said she knew Dutson would never intentionally hurt Kara, but the drugs he took the night he fired a gun at the girl were no excuse for killing her.  "We know he loved her, and we loved him," Patricia Hopkins said.  "This has been very hard."  She asked Hansen if she could remove the photo from the frame and give it to Dutson.  For security reasons, that was not possible in the courtroom, the judge replied, but the photo could be transferred to Dutson later through his lawyers.     Read more
 
 
Man Sentenced to Prison for Killing Girlfriend
FOX 13 News
Originally broadcast December 9, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY - A man convicted of shooting his girlfriend to death was sentenced today to 15-years-to-life in prison.  21-year-old Parley Jeffs Dutson, a former FLDS member who left the church when he was 16, apologized to the family of Kara Hopkins in court saying, "words seem insignificant when I try to express the way I feel. I'm very sorry for what I've done."  Dutson killed Hopkins during a party back in 2007.  "This is simply a tragedy," said Defense Attorney Denise Porter.  "Parley loved Kara very much and he's someone who's going to spend the rest of his life regretting that night."  Hopkins' mother gave Dutson a picture of Kara before he was sent to prison.
 
 
Lost children of polygamy
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC4 News
Originally broadcast February 18, 2010

ST GEORGE, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Caleb Barlow is the first to acknowledge that he's one of the lucky ones. Caleb left Colorado City when he was in his mid-teens.  He followed in the footsteps of some of his older brothers who also left, disgusted with the control and the isolation of the polygamist, FLDS community.  But unlike his older brothers, Caleb found a new home with a host family in St. George thanks to the Diversity Foundation.  The stability of the family helped him to overcome a series of barriers in the outside world faced by all those who are exiled from Colorado City.  Once called the "lost boys", these teenage refugees from polygamy are now both boys and girls.  They are rejected by their family, friends and religious leaders.  In the outside world, they find themselves among people they'd been taught to distrust and even fear.  Caleb said, "When I first left, I was kind of scared."  Caleb was not only scared, but also feeling guilty and hopeless. The children of Colorado City are told all their lives that everyone outside the group is damned.  Now they're on the outside.  Shannon Price of the Diversity Foundation said, "These kids are dealing with emotional issues of feeling maybe guilty or feeling abandoned. I had one child who said his mother said the church was more important than he was. That's abandonment."     Read more
 
 
GETTING RESULTS: Host families for the lost children of polygamy
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC4 News
Originally broadcast February 22, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Following an ABC 4 story on the plight of children exiled from polygamy, viewers responded by volunteering to be host families.  "I had a great response," said Shannon Price, director of the Diversity Foundation.  "I started getting phone calls immediately after the story. They didn't even wait for the weather report."  "I probably have a list of 15 potential families that want to host a child," Price said.  It's a good thing.  Before the story aired, she had no available host families.  That does not mean children will be placed with all 15 families immediately.  These families essentially are put on call.  There is rarely any advance notice that a child is being exiled.  Price said, "It's nothing that they do rashly. You know, they consider that they're leaving their mom and dad and the impact that it's going to have on their family. But when they come out it's pretty quick. I have no idea when that's going to happen or ultimately if it is going to happen until all of a sudden one day I get a phone call."  With 15 volunteer families on the list, at least now Shannon Price will have some options.     Read more
 
 
Shrek to take final bow at Tribeca
Arts & Entertainment
CBC News - Toronto, Ontario
Originally published Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shrek Forever After, the final instalment of the Shrek movie series, will open this year's Tribeca Film Festival in New York.  It is the first of the series about the beloved cartoon ogre to be shot in 3D.  Directed by Mike Mitchel, Shrek Forever After features the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas,  The Tribeca festival, founded in 2001 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff to help revitalize lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, announced 34 titles in its 2010 lineup on Thursday.  It will present 85 features from 38 different countries, including 45 world premieres beginning April 21.  The festival plans a sneak preview of a documentary about former New York governor Eliot Spitzer being created by Alex Gibney, the filmmaker behind Taxi to the Dark Side.  Spitzer made his reputation as a crusading attorney-general for the state of New York, taking on big tobacco and kickbacks in the music industry. He was in the governor's office when he was caught seeing prostitutes, in a public scandal that ruined his career.  The as-yet-untitled documentary explores his story through interviews with friends and enemies.     Read more
 
 
Tribeca Film Festival selections include Serge Gainsbourg biopic
By Wendy Mitchell
News Brief
Entertainment Weekly
Originally published March 10, 2010

The Tribeca Film Festival has announced the first 34 films selected for its program for the ninth festival, running April 21 to May 2 in New York City. In the World Narrative Competition, films include Serge Gainsbourg biopic Gainsbourg, Je t'Aime... Moi Non Plus; James Franco-starring William Vincent; Irish psychological drama Snap; Korean story Paju directed by Chan-ok Park; Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek's Loose Cannons; and My Brothers, the directorial debut of Shane Meadows collaborator Paul Fraser.

In The World Documentary Competition, selections include Down syndrome love story Monica & David; Sons of Perdition, an investigation of Warren Jeffs' polygaminst community; sports and drugs story The Two Escobars; rugby documentary Freetime Machos; and falcon smuggling film Feathered Cocaine.

Also, Showcase screenings will include Dev Benegal's Road, Movie; French romantic comedy Heartbreaker starring Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis; and Haiti-set Moloch Tropical. Special Events will include a showing of a specially restored Doctor Zhivago and Alex Gibney's work-in-progress screening of his documentary about Eliot Spitzer.

More films will be announced in coming weeks. In all, this year's festival will present 45 world premieres. Tribeca recently announced that it will also launch distribution arm Tribeca Film, and the online Tribeca Film Festival Virtual.
 
 
Tribeca Film Festival unveils lineup
Selection includes 85 feature-length films
By PAMELA MCCLINTOCK
Film
Variety
Originally published Wed., Mar. 10, 2010

Providing the first glimpse of its 2010 lineup, the ninth Tribeca Film Festival will treat audiences to a work-in-progress screening of Alex Gibney's documentary on fallen New York politico Eliot Spitzer -- exemplifying the fest's loyalty to its core aud of New Yorkers.  Running April 21-May 2, this year's fest will showcase 85 feature-length films, as well as 47 shorts.  Festival organizers Wednesday announced the first 33 titles, including the 24 films playing in the world narrative and documentary competition sections, seven films unspooling in the showcase section, which highlights global cinema, and three titles in the special events category.  The 12 pictures vying in the narrative category include Joann Sfar's "Gainsbourg," a biopic of iconic French singer Serge Gainsbourg, Paul Fraser's Irish film "My Brothers" and Korean directorChan-ok Park's "Paju."  Kim Chapiron and Jeremie Delon's French pic "Dog Pound" also earned a slot.  "Dog Pound" and "Brothers" make their world premieres at Tribeca.  Included in the documentary competition are "Son of Perdition," Jennilyn Merten's look at notorious polygamist Warren Jeffs, and "The Two Escobars," Jeff and Michael Zimbalist's intertwining profiles of Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar and fellow countryman Andres Escobar, who, though not related, shared a passion for soccer.  Tribeca marks the world preem of both docs.     Read more
 
 
TFF '10: World Documentary Features
A dozen films will compete in the World Documentary Feature Competition at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.
By The Editors
Tribeca Film Festival - New York, NY
Originally published March 10, 2010

Today Tribeca announced the first 34 feature films of the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival slate.  The rest of the features slate will be announced on Monday, March 15, with the list of short films to follow later in the week.  The complete list of features will be posted online on Monday in the 2010 Film Guide.  "I'm energized by the strong line up of films this year," said Nancy Schafer, Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Festival.  "While it's an incredibly exciting time for Tribeca with the launch of Tribeca Film and the Tribeca Film Festival Virtual — expanding our reach so more and more people can engage in the festival experience — the Tribeca Film Festival is still the heart and soul of what we do. We are looking forward to the New York City audiences seeing these great films."  Documentaries have always been one of the Tribeca Film Festival's strong suits.  The 12 films in this year's World Documentary Feature Competition are gripping personal tales, illuminating examinations of global events, and fresh perspectives on familiar topics.     Read more
 
 
Sons of Perdition
World Documentary Competition
Tribeca Film Festival - New York, NY
Originally published March 10, 2010

World Documentary Feature Competition
[SONSO] | 2010 | 85 min | Feature Documentary
Directed by: Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten
USA
World Premiere
Interests: Documentary, Female Director(s), Identity, Religion, Social Issues, Teens
sonsofperditionthemovie.com
Read more
 
 
Watch the Sons of Perdition trailer
 
 
Faces of the Festival: Tyler Measom & Jennilyn Merten
Meet the directors of the Sons of Perdition, the extraordinary story of three boys who left the controversial Warren Jeffs sect of the FLDS and struck out on their own.
By Jenni Miller
Tribeca Film Festival - New York City
Originally published April 15, 2010

In the process of making a documentary about three boys who left Warren Jeffs' sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten became much more than outsiders and filmmakers. Sons of Perdition is an emotionally engaging and shocking look at the FLDS Church through the eyes of Sam, Joe, and Bruce, three teens who decided that life inside the Crick, aka Colorado City, AZ, among the strict polygamists under Warren Jeffs' control, was not what they wanted for themselves. Once out, though, they had nowhere to go — no job prospects, home, or family, and very little education to boot. As the teens struggle, and Joe's family tries to escape as well, Measom and Merten got a firsthand look at the inner workings of the FLDS church and the complex problem of its lost boys, as well as the difficulties of remaining neutral journalists in the face of injustice.

TribecaFilm.com: In your own words, tell me about Sons of Perdition.

Jennilyn Merten:
I think there's a whole sort of political side to the movie—and not just to the movie, but to the issues. When we got started, there was a lot about the politics and the kids getting kicked out and the church and polygamy up in Utah, but I think as we got further into the filming and into the post-production, we realized that this is really a story — an emotional story — a portrait of these three boys. And to tell the best story, it had to come from that place; it had to come from a place of character and from intimacy and telling the story of what's happening in the community and the tensions in the community through the boys.

Tyler Measom: It's not simply just a coming-of-age story of kids and where they're going to live: where are these kids going to stay and how are they going to survive in a world they don't know anything about? It's deeper than that. And those [issues] may have been covered by the news... But being told you're going to hell: a lot of people will never understand the consequences of being ingrained with [the idea that] you will go to hell, and hell is this awful, fiery, horrible place, and these kids make [what they think is] a conscious choice to literally go to hell, and that is brave and scary at the same time.
Read more
 
 
Explosive learning
BY STAFF SGT. CHRISTOPHER HOLMES
Joint Hometown News Service
The Spectrum
Originally published April 19, 2010

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - When the Academy Award winning best picture "The Hurt Locker" showcased the dangerous business of defusing bombs in Iraq, actor Jeremy Renner put his acting talents to the test in a portrayal of an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal expert.  But Army Spec. Benjamin Y. Barlow isn't acting.  For Barlow, being successful at defusing deadly explosives can mean the difference between life and death.  Barlow, son of Glenda Barlow of Hildale and step-brother of Samuel Fischer Jr., of Washington City, is a student at the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal School where he will spend close to a year learning the delicate techniques of how to recover, evaluate, safely render and dispose of live ordnance.  For Barlow, paying attention to the details of such things as ordnance identification, disarmament, transportation and disposal, along with such things as rigging principles, recon procedures and biological and chemical training, can literally save lives in the very difficult and different battlefield of the 21st Century.  "This training is by far the biggest mental challenge I have ever had," Barlow said.  The Navy-supported school trains close to 2,000 students each year from all branches of the service.  Barlow, like his fellow classmates, volunteered for the difficult school for a reason.  "I decided to become an EOD technician after working with them during my first deployment to Iraq as a member of a route clearance team," Barlow said.     Read more
 
 
Tribeca Film Festival Preview: What To Catch At This Year's Fest
By Katey Rich
Managing Editor
Cinema Blend
Originally published April 21, 2010

This weekend marks the beginning of this year's Tribeca Film Festival, which brings film lovers from all over to the cavernous streets of downtown Manhattan, and sends your trusty Cinema Blend correspondents running all over creation to cover it.  Eric Eisenberg, Perri Nemiroff and myself will be covering Tribeca over the next ten days, seeing all kinds of indie films, doing all kinds of interviews, and trying to sleep once in a while in the meantime.  We've already started seeing some of the films from this year's festival, and below we've got a list of 20 films that we either know are worth your time or are anxious to see yourself.  Keeping checking Cinema Blend daily for new reviews and interviews from the festival, and if you're there too, let us know in the comments!

Sons of Perdition

A depressing documentary, but one that's particularly timely given the scandals that surround Warren Jeffs and his polygamist community-- the story of the boys exiled from their communities seems like it has potential for truly heartbreaking stuff on film.

"There are no monogamists in heaven," proclaims Warren Jeffs, the notorious (and now incarcerated) leader and "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For decades, the church's followers have practiced polygamy, believing dozens of young wives and scores of children bring them closer to God, but as Jeffs' cultish influence over the community grows, they soon find themselves sacrificing their freedom of thought.     Read more
 
 
Tribeca
Sons of Perdition (Documentary)
By JOHN ANDERSON
Variety
Originally published Fri., Apr. 23, 2010

An Impact Partners/BBC Storyville presentation of a Left Turn Films production in association with Motto Pictures and Cactus Three. (International sales: Motto Pictures, New York.) Produced by Julie Goldman, Tyler Meason, Jennilyn Merten. Executive producers, Nick Fraser, Greg Sanderson, Dan Cogan, Julia Parker Benello, Diana Barrett, Abigail Disney, Krysanne Katsoolis, Caroline Stevens. Directed by Tyler Meason, Jennilyn Merten.

With: Joe Broadbent, Sam Brower, Jeremy Johnson, Sharla Johnson, Bruce Barlow, Sabrina Broadbent.

A provocative premise is undone by limited exploration and basic incoherence in "Sons of Perdition," an attempt to profile the plight of Utah's "lost boys" -- the offspring of the fundamentalist Mormon sect led by the now-imprisoned Warren Jeffs. These are children who, for reasons of temperament, culture or their status as marriageable young men, have found themselves exiled from their faith, families and only known world. Pic will get mileage out of its subject and title, but won't inspire much devotion.

What the docu does reveal about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) is appalling: Under Jeffs, the number of wives one had reflected one's material success; wives were taken from the less prosperous and reassigned to the wealthy. Mormon families were broken down and reassembled according to Jeffs' whims, as he married off children to old men and was eventually convicted of abetting rape. It's all quite horrible, and the idea that some might choose to flee isn't all that surprising.     Read more
 
 
The Sons of Perdition in Person
By ROSEANNE COLLETTI
NBC New York
Originally broadcast April 23, 2010

Most people don't get to see their life stories on the big screen -- but not everyone has escaped from a polygamist cult.  We met some folks who have now done both.  "My father tried to marry me off when I was 14," explained teenager Hillary Broadbent, who appears in "Sons of Perdition", premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival.  The documentary presents the personal narratives of several individuals who fled a fundamentalist Mormon compound in southern Utah.  The enclave was under the rule of infamous polygamist "prophet" Warren Jeffs.  He is now serving time for two charges of accomplice to rape.   "I just wanted people to know there was support out there for women and children who leave," said Hillary's mom Jorgina, who left the cult with six children. Her son Joe, Hillary's brother, is also in the film.  Don't look for laughs in this one.  It's not "Shrek."  Directors Jennilyn Merten and Tyler Measom are lapsed Mormons themselves and say they identify with the stories told.  The documentary is 89-minutes long and is one of 12 documentaries in competition at the festival.     See photo
 

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.

 
 
Sons of Perdition
By David D'Arcy
ScreenDaily.com
Originally published April 24, 2010

Sons of Perdition, which follows teenagers in flight from a bigamous Mormon community in the Utah desert, promises a reality check on the comic myths of Big Love. Yet the documentary fails to assemble raw testimony into a satisfying picture.

The title comes from a Biblical description of sinful men who flaunt the authority of God. Mormon doctrine decrees that Sons of Perdition will not partake of the afterlife in heaven. On earth, they are expelled and shunned.

The prospect of a look inside a notorious group of bigamists in the US who force young girls to be wife/slaves should find plenty of festival exposure. Theatrical distributors may be wary of its amateurish production, editing and storytelling. Still, the titillation effect could put Sons of Perdition on television in Europe, where this brand of desert fundamentalism might be seen as exotic.

The breakaway Mormon sect that the teenagers flee is clustered in remote Colorado City Utah, framed by starkly rugged mountains. Its autocratic leader, Warren Jeffs, who had some 70 wives and arranged many more marriages, is now jailed on two convictions for "rape as an accomplice."     Read more
 
 
Tribeca Review: Sons Of Perdition
By Katey Rich
Managing Editor
Cinema Blend
Originally published April 24, 2010

The heartbreaking story at the center of Sons of Perdition is one that frequently appeared on the fringes of news stories about polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, whose 2007 conviction on charges of being an accomplice to child rape shed light on the strange world of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A conservative fringe branch of the Mormon faith, the FLDS community mandates polygamy and absolute adherence to the commands of "prophet" Jeffs, meaning that young girls can be married off to men twice their age, or that families can be broken up because Jeffs took an interest in one of the wives, or a man "misbehaved" and was punished by having a wife taken away.

Any dissenters in this strict society, particularly male ones, are banished outside of the community and dubbed "sons of perdition," as filmmakers Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten explore in their fascinating documentary. Primarily focusing on three teenage exiles-- Joe, Bruce and Sam-- who live together in a town about an hour away, the film explores both the boys' strange exhilaration at their freedom-- dyeing their hair ridiculous colors, drinking too much and doing some drugs-- and their pain at losing all contact with their families. All three grew up in Colorado City, Ariz., or as they call it "The Crick," a closely controlled society where the only subjects in school were religion and math, where nobody traveled outside of town and no outsiders came in, and where the world seemed no larger than the scrubby desert that surrounded them.
Read more
 
 
 
 
Film Review: Sons of Perdition
Joseph Smigelski
English Instructor at two community colleges in Northern California
The Huffington Post
Originally published April 27, 2010

I hope Sons of Perdition is given wide distribution because directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten have done a great service to all Americans by making this documentary. Everyone must be made more aware of the extent to which innocent people are being persecuted by leaders of religious cults in this country. The movie follows a group of young Mormons who have been raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and who choose to risk going to hell, something they really fear, by running away from the tyranny to gain freedom of thought. What greater intellectual and emotional journey can even be imagined?

I have read and seen films about cults before, but this movie really brings home the degree of psychological abuse that a manipulative power-hungry religious fanatic can wreak on the people that he is supposed to care for and indeed claims he cares for. The focus is on three teenage boys who have lived their whole lives under the thumbs of men who follow the perverted teachings of Warren Jeffs, a self-proclaimed prophet claiming to speak the word of God. But as bad as the boys' situation is, the women have it worse: they are essentially chattel, sometimes traded from man to man as I used to trade baseball cards when I was a kid. The women are not encouraged to think for themselves, and the men think of them primarily as baby-making machines. In the FLDS, a woman's job is to obey her man. Period.     Read more
 
 
TRIBECA REVIEW | Religious Rebels: "Sons of Perdition"
By Eric Kohn
Indie Wire - a SnagFilms Company
Originally published April 27, 2010

The Mormon outcasts at the center of "Sons of Perdition," a documentary directed by Tyler Meason and Jennilyn Merten, bring authenticity to a sensationalist hook. The polygamous community of the "Crick," a Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) enclave run by the dictatorial Warren Jeffs until his 2007 incarceration, drives relatively normal teenagers into self-imposed exile. Living on the outskirts of the Arizona town, these disillusioned characters come together in the hopes of finding a better life.

Freedom, however, serves as only one step in their maturation. Outside the Crick, they continue on their aimless trajectories - except now they can drink, banter and engage in other loose social behavior rather than suffer under the watchful eye of the FLDS's trenchant rules. As a result, they come across as both victims of religious extremism and accidental entertainment.     Read more
 
 
Indie Films and Sons of Perdition
Stewart Nusbaumer
Blogging from Tribeca Film Festival
The Huffington Post
Originally published April 28, 2010

The best film festivals, it seems, have some of the worst movie clunkers. That's probably because the best festivals are bulging with great films and that makes the clunkers seem even more horrible.

Back in January at Sundance, The Fence was so deeply flawed that only the lobotomized could get into it -- well, that's probably a tad too much. But come on, the film excluded a critical voice from the story. If Independent films do not include the voices of the voiceless, what is the purpose of making Indie film? Just go make the big bucks!

Then at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas, I watched Haynesville: A Nation's Hunt For Energy. While The Fence ignored the voice of poor whites and minorities in the debate over illegal immigration, Haynesville ignored the mounting evidence that natural gas drilling is dangerous for all of us. And sure enough, what Haynesville ignored has recently hit the front page: More than 100 homes' drinking water has been cut off in Louisiana because of pollution from the drilling for natural gas. If the purpose of Indie film is not to inform those in danger, to side with the powerful and wealthy against regular people, what is the purpose of Indie films?     Read more
 
 
Best of Tribeca: "Sons of Perdition"
Young men driven out of a polygamist Mormon sect are the focus of a moving and exciting documentary
By Andrew O'Hehir
Film Salon - New York, NY
Originally published Monday, May 3, 2010

With the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival now concluded, here's one of the films I liked best. For more coverage, go here.

What could have been a piece of oddball, marginal Americana -- the boys and men ejected by a breakaway Mormon polygamist sect -- instead becomes a moving, thrilling yarn of heartland life and masculinity. "Sons of Perdition" may be a small film in terms of its focus and resources, but its emotional impact and cultural significance are enormous. This wasn't just the best documentary I saw at Tribeca but the best one I've seen so far this year. (I'm not dissing Banksy's "Exit Through the Gift Shop," by the way; that belongs in its own category.)

For obvious reasons, a polygamous society needs lots and lots of females and far fewer males, and Warren Jeffs' Fundamental Latter-day Saints sect in Colorado City, Ariz. (known to its inhabitants as "the Crick"), is no exception. Over the years, hundreds if not thousands of boys and men have left Colorado City (or been told to leave) and descended on nearby St. George, Utah, with nowhere to stay, no education, no birth certificate and little or no understanding of the world outside Jeffs' self-appointed community of salvation. In many cases, they've never played a video game or watched a DVD, and haven't heard of Barack Obama or Adolf Hitler.     Read more
 
 
Povety in America
Hard Road for Exiled FLDS Boys
By Tara Kyle
Change.org
Originally published May 5, 2010

Last week, during the Tribeca Film Festival, I saw a documentary that put the plight of these teens into sharp focus.  Sons of Perdition, which had its world premiere at the festival (watch the trailer here) follows a group of boys who leave "the Crick" (pictured), the nickname for the FLDS compounds of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.  When FLDS teens are kicked out of or flee the Crick, typically for St. George, Utah, they are cut off completely from their parents and siblings.  In addition to the psychological trauma of banishment, and the fear they hold for sisters who may be married off in their early teens, they are confronted with figuring out how to survive in mainstream society.   "It's like taking a kid from Somalia and putting him in downtown L.A. They don't know how to apply for jobs, don't know how to balance a checkbook," one person in the film's trailer points out.  "They don't even know what a checking account is."  These exiled, minimally educated and semi-homeless kids often bunk together in small apartments, sometimes 10 to 20 boys in just one or two bedrooms.  For awhile, the teens spotlighted in the film are taken in by local software millionaire Jeremy Johnson.  Later, when they are caught succumbing to drugs, they live at a halfway house run by Johnson.  One group drawing attention to "lost boys" like those in the film is the Utah-based HOPE Organization.  Its site includes a useful archive of articles chronicling journeys like these, as well as profiles of about a dozen women who escaped from abuse in the Crick.  In August, HOPE kicked off a Jump Start program to teach life skills to kids in Hildale and Colorado City.     Read more
 
 
Mountainfilm Announces More 2010 Film Selections
Art, Adventure and Advocacy All Well Represented
The Watch - Telluride, Colorado
Originally published May 6, 2010

TELLURIDE – The 32nd Annual TELLURIDE Mountainfilm Festival will be the biggest ever with more venues in operation, more special guests and more programming.  Festival Director David Holbrooke says Mountainfilm is thriving.  "We are particularly excited about the festival this year," he says.  "We have a very strong and varied lineup of films, speakers and artists. We have accomplished mountaineers like Ed Viesturs and Conrad Anker but we also have artists like Maya Lin and Chris Jordan. We have environmental activists like Dave Foreman and Tim DeChristopher, but we also have Civil-rights activists, with two Freedom Riders coming to town."  Among the films to screen in Telluride at the end of May, Holbrooke highlighted the following as examples of Mountainfilm's depth and diversity:

Barefoot to Timbuktu: In 1987, the Swiss-American artist Ernst Aebi found himself stranded at the Araouane oasis in the Sahara on the back of a camel. The few inhabitants were poor and extremely religious. Aebi decided on the spur of the moment to realize a self-help project with them. After three years, Western ambition clashed with Islamic tradition, and success with disappointment. Directed by Martina Egi.
Read more
 
 
SilverDocs Unveils U.S. and World Competition Films for June Fest
By Brian Brooks
Indie Wire - a SnagFilms Company
Originally published May 26, 2010

One of America's most prominent documentary events, the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival, unveiled its competition line up with 11 features competiting in both its "Sterling U.S. Feature Competition and "Sterling World Feature Competition."  There are also over three dozen shorts set for its shorts competition.  As previously announced, "Freakonomics" will open SilverDocs, which takes place in Silver Springs, MD June 21 to 27.  The Magnolia release includes contributions from Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side"), Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me"), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing ("Jesus Camp"), Eugene Jarecki ("Why We Fight"), and Seth Gordon ("King of Kong").  Gibney, Spurlock, Grady, and Ewing will attend the festival.  The fest will close out with Amir Bar-Lev's Sundance title, "The Tillman Story."  New this year is a retrospective series of films by Guggenheim honoree Frederick Wiseman and a special "Peacebuilding On Screen" strand organized in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace.  "This year we received more high-quality submissions than ever before, making it harder than ever to select the films for the 2010 program," commented Sky Sitney, SilverDocs Artistic Director in a comment.  "This Festival slate represents the very best the documentary form has to offer, covering a wide range of issues and voices, and focusing on cinematic excellence."  Sterling U.S. Feature Competition line up (with descriptions provided by the festival):     Read more
 
 
Telluride Mountainfilm 2010
In Our Beleaguered World, a Clarion Call for Change
By Marta Tarbell
The Watch - Telluride, Colorado
Originally published May 27, 2010

TELLURIDE – We come to Telluride Mountainfilm expecting it to change how we perceive things, and year after year, this idiosyncratic Memorial Day Weekend festival, with its plethora of documentaries, gallery shows, features and seminars, delivers.  For me personally, Mountainfilm has meant no more cane sugar in my cupboard (since learning about the concentration-camp lifestyle of the Haitian immigrants who labor in the sugar-cane fields of the Dominican Republic, where most of the world's sugar-cane production is overseen by one cruelly dominant family, The Price of Sugar, 2007); queasiness upon eating non-organic chicken (after seeing the Barbie-doll-breasted factory chickens tortured into existence by food-industry scientists to satisfy their captive consumers' preference for breast-meat, Food, Inc., 2009); and, once and for all, understanding that it's largely people like me, shopping at big-box-stores like Wal-Mart, who keep the human slave trade flourishing – in a world with more people in slavery than at any point in history – thanks to the Mountainfilm 2008 presentation by author E. Benjamin Skinner (A Crime So Monstrous).  And let's not forget that Mountainfilm audiences knew, long before British Petroleum's ocean-floor oil leak of unparalleled proportions, about the desperate state of the world's oceans (and the life within them), thanks to the festival's programming Boulder filmmaker Louis Psihovos' documentary The Cove (2009), which went on to win a well-deserved Academy Award this year.  Festival Director David Holbrooke says that the year he and staff spend assembling the pieces of this festival is every bit as inspiring as the end result.  How to best sum it up? "Indomitable spirit" remains the common thread winding through Telluride Mountainfilm 2010, he says.     Read more
 
 
Losing their religion
"Sons of Perdition" looks at 'Lost Boys' in southern Utah
By Katie Klingsporn
Associate Editor
Telluride Daily Planet - Telluride, Colorado
Originally published Thursday, May 27, 2010

On a sunburned patch of desert that straddles the border of Utah and Arizona lies a community of huge homes and imposing fences called Colorado City and Hillsdale.  To those who live there, it's known as The Crick.  There, in the shadow of red-rock bluffs, a large sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints practices its religion, an all-encompassing doctrine dictated by the incarcerated but powerful prophet Warren Jeffs.  In this carefully controlled compound, men have many wives, boys leave school to work for tithing money, girls are married young and families are the center of everything.  In 2003, Jeffs launched an effort to cleanse his flock, banning recreation and gentile books, forcing out male members for reasons as small as watching a movie with an apostate.  What followed was an exodus of hundreds of teenage boys — some forced and some willing — to neighboring towns like St. George, Utah.  These boys who left the religion — be it to go to college, meet girls or just to taste the world outside of the insulated town — are considered "sons of perdition," and are damned to hell, says the prophet.  Many are cut off completely from their families, and are left to fend for themselves, lacking education or sometimes even a home, in a new and alien world.  "Sons of Perdition," a heartbreaking movie by Jennilyn Merten and Tyler Measom, follows three exiled boys in the aftermath of their departure from The Crick.  The movie chronicles their journey as they deal with the loss of their religion, the intoxicating taste of freedom, the hopes of the future and the cruel obstacles of life outside of The Crick.     Read more
 
 
Hope's many forms
Mountainfilm wraps, "Bag It" ties for Audience Choice Award
By Katie Klingsporn
Associate Editor
Telluride Daily Planet - Telluride, Colorado
Originally published Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On Monday morning at the Palm Theatre, Prudence Mabhena, the subject of the documentary "Music by Prudence," took the stage alone in her wheelchair.  The audience had just finished watching the film, which tells how Prudence, who was born in Zimbabwe with a severe disability and abandoned by her parents, has overcome tremendous challenges to become a musician.  And when Prudence opened her mouth and sang "Amazing Grace" — her voice a mixture of strength and pain and beauty — her spirit became a palpable thing, cutting through the darkness and resonating to the balcony with each note.  The performance was but one bright spot in the 2010 Mountainfilm Festival, which offered many versions of hope to its audience — along with what is at stake if things don't change.  "I hope it affects you," Festival Director David Holbrooke told the sun-soaked crowd at the festival's closing picnic on Monday.  "I know from the first time ... it has affected me. I hope it has an impact, because that's what we try to do."  This year's festival filled the box canyon with stories of indomitable spirit — of taking a leap for personal freedom and finding beauty in a garbage heap and rehabilitating a devastated piece of land — with four days of films, presentations and speakers.  And in the end, it was a pair of films with local connections that won the hearts of the viewers.     Read more
 
 
When Filmmakers Become Their Stories
By Peter Shelton
VIEW TO THE WEST
The Watch - Telluride, Colorado
Originally published June 3, 2010

Some documentary films advocate unapologetically for change. Gasland, for example, which screened last weekend at Mountainfilm.  Josh Fox's personal journey of discovery through the natural-gas fields of Pennsylvania (his home state) and west to the Rocky Mountains is a forthright indictment of an industry largely unregulated, and stubbornly secretive, when it comes to the air and water pollution it creates.  (In one harrowing scene, a Colorado man instructs his wife to dial "91", and then let her finger hover over the final "1", while he lights the stream from their kitchen faucet on fire.)  Fox's film is designed to stir outrage and action.  Bag It is another one.  The movie starts with the "paper or plastic" dilemma at your supermarket and swoops into an investigation – a surprisingly entertaining and gentle-spirited investigation – of all things plastic and their effects on our bodies, our babies and our fellow creatures.  Bag It ends with simple recommendations for changing what has until now been unconsciously destructive behavior – bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery is just one.  But what about documentaries that, inadvertently perhaps, alter the realities of their protagonists?  Mountainfilm screened a couple of films this year that begged the question: What responsibility do artists bear for their often vulnerable human subjects?     Read more
 
 
Film Follows Teen Exiles from Polygamous Sect
Sons of Perdition explores polygamy, prairie dresses, and what it means to live in exile.
By Becky Garrison
Interview
Sexuality/Gender
Religion Dispatches - San Francisco, CA
Originally published June 9, 2010

Sons of Perdition, a documentary that premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival, follows the story of a group of teenage boys who have left the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a polygamous Mormon group, and tracks their struggles in exile from their homes and families.

Many first learned of the FLDS when the sect came into the media spotlight following leader Warren Jeffs' arrest (and eventual conviction) as an accomplice to rape. Pictures of young women in "prairie dresses" were splashed on TV and the media rushed to try to explain who these people actually were. Were they Mormons? Were they a cult?

I had planned an interview with the film's directors, but before I met them I went to RD contributor Joanna Brooks, a Mormon writer and scholar, to help me get some context. She described the FLDS sect as "the most extreme of several fundamentalist Mormon polygamous groups," distinguished by their focus on a "prophet" who plays an extremely commanding role in the life of the community. As she explains it, while fundamentalist LDS and mainstream LDS share a common history, scripture, and basic theology, the LDS church banned polygamy in 1890 and the groups who continued the practice split off early on. Consequently, she explains, "many of their beliefs reflect the general state of Mormon doctrine at that time—before the modern LDS church grew into the global church it is today."

In addition, while polygamy as a doctrine has not been entirely abolished in mainstream LDS (some modern orthodox LDS followers believe there will be polygamy in the afterlife), for fundamentalist and FLDS folks, because polygamy has been rejected by mainstream Mormonism and punished by the state, it has become the defining and central expression of faith.

At the Tribeca Film Festival, I sat down with directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten for an in-depth discussion about their documentary.     Read more
 
 
'Sons Of Perdition,' Exiles From Jeffs' Church
NEAL CONAN, host
Talk of the Nation
National Public Radio
Originally broadcast June 24, 2010

The documentary Sons of Perdition follows three young men who run away and live in exile from polygamist Warren Jeffs' church, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The runaway boys — Joe, Bruce and Sam — face many challenges, compounded by their almost complete lack of knowledge about the world.

Directors Jennilyn Merten and Tyler Measom talk about life for young people in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

NEAL CONAN, host:

The voice of the notorious Warren Jeffs permeates a new documentary called "Sons of Perdition." Jeffs, who's now in prison, is the self-described prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a polygamist group that's established communities in several places, probably the best known though in Colorado City, Arizona - dubbed The Crick by its inhabitants. Life in this strict religious community has no room for dissenters. And the movie follows the lives of three teenage exiles: Joe, Bruce and Sam, all runaways slowly getting used to life outside The Crick. It's not an easy transition, as Joe explains.
Read more
 
 
Silverdocs: A Conversation with Sons of Perdition Filmmakers Jennilyn Merten and Tyler Measom
By Alix McKenna
Arts Desk
Washington City Paper - Washington, DC
Originally published Jun. 25, 2010

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is one of the largest polygamist sects in the country. In their film Sons of Perdition, Jennilyn Merten and Tyler Measom follow three teenage boys who fled life on the repressive FLDS settlement. After leaving, the boys are viewed as damned by their former neighbors, disowned by their families and forbidden from returning home. Merten and Measom also take us into a community of young runaways who are remarkably resourceful and supportive of each other. Sons of Perdition will be showing at Silverdocs in Silver Spring this Saturday. The screening will be at 9:30 P.M. At AFI Silver Theater 2.

WCP: Tell us a bit about your backgrounds and how you came to make this film.

TM: We both came from a Mormon background and we both left the church. Now mind you, the Mormon church is different from the FLDS church, but it still has a lot of the same tenets. That was kind of why the story resonated with us. I have polygamy in my DNA. My great-great-great grandfather was a polygamist. The story of these kids wasn't anything secret. It was in the news, but they kind of treated it more as, you know, these kids have nowhere to live and they can't see their moms and dads, which is, tragic, but we knew that there was something a little deeper. There's the thinking you're going to Hell topic. That's kind of what brought us into the story.

JM: When we started working on the film, I was doing my PHD in American studies at the University of Utah, and was really interested in groups that have gone out into the desert to form alternative societies. And I was doing some commercial work with Tyler. When we heard about the story, we just felt, like Tyler said, that this was our story writ large, and there was this really interesting spiritual journey and an intellectual journey. It was a two-person team. We didn't have funding. We didn't necessarily have resources. We just did it.

WCP: Are there a lot of these kids living in Utah?

TM: There are estimates of up to a thousand of them. They mostly were in Saint George, although they were spread all over the place.
Read more
 
 
INTERVIEW with the directors of SONS OF PERDITION: "They have no idea that I just spent four years publicly disparaging their God."
By Lauren Macaluso
Critical Mass - City Paper's Arts and Entertainment Blog
Philadelphia City Paper
Originally published Friday, July 9th, 2010

Sons of Perdition follows three boys exiled from their polygamist communities in Colorado City, AZ. Directors Jennilyn Merten and Tyler Measom provide viewers with an unseen side of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints religion and its demanding leader Warren Jeffs through Bruce, Sam and Joe. Filmed over a period of three years, the boys stumble through life outside their faith — sex, drugs, and partying included. The directors, like their subjects, are also ex-Mormons, who left the faith in their 20s. "It wasn't as traumatic as it was for the kids but it was a story that was kind of close to our hearts in terms of leaving your religion, struggling to find a new faith and dealing with your family," says Merten. I caught up with the directors via conference call as they spent time on opposite sides of the country — Merten in New York and Meason in Utah. Their film will be shown tonight as part of the PUFF screening series.

City Paper: How did you go about finding Bruce, Sam, and Joe?

Jennilyn Merten: We set out to find some kids and met a social worker who was helping some of them. He introduced us to a couple of the kids who weren't real great, actually a couple of them told us to f*&% off. They've been taught their whole lives that outsiders are evil and they're going to do horrible things to you. It took a little bit of work to gain their trust. But eventually we discovered this underground railroad community of kids, mostly boys living on their own.
Read more
 
 
2010 Salt Lake City Film Festival selections
Jeff Vice, movie critic
Entertainment now
Deseret News
Originally published July 22, 2010

Organizers for the Salt Lake City Film Festival have announced the slate of movies for this year's event, which runs Aug. 12-15.  This year's event will 19 feature-length films (10 documentaries and nine narrative features) and 22 shorter works.  Two of the more intriguing selections are locally produced documentaries: "Cleanflix," which looks at the Utah County-based, film-editing business, and "Sons of Perdition," an investigation of the polygamist community in Colorado City, Ariz.  Festival Director Matt Whittaker said other selections include stories of "Russian ex-mafia, American jihadists, beautiful seas, vegan hot dog stands, drunken romantic comedies, Yeshiva baseball, magical cheese-producing goats, animated Mars missions, the world's largest frying pan, killer tractors and much more."  Screenings and other events for this year's festival will be held at Brewvies Cinema Pub, the Broadway Centre Cinemas, the Post Theatre (Fort Douglas) and the Tower Theatre.  Tickets for the festival are already on sale.  Information on the film selections, as well as ticketing information, is available at www.saltlakecityfilmfestival.com     See poster
 
 
Julia Roberts, Forest Whitaker, Goldie Hawn, Gabriel Byrne and Mariel Hemingway Sign On for OWN: THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK Original Documentaries
Films Will Join OWN's Monthly Documentary Film Club, Along With "Life 2.0" and "Sons of Perdition"
Press Releases
StreetInsider.com - Birmingham, Michigan
Originally published July 26, 2010

LOS ANGELES, July 26 /PRNewswire/ -- OWN: THE OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK is producing five OWN original two-hour documentaries with Julia Roberts, Forest Whitaker, Goldie Hawn, Gabriel Byrne and Mariel Hemingway, OWN announced today.

The films will be presented as part of OWN's monthly documentary film club, along with the original acquisitions LIFE 2.0 and SONS OF PERDITION. The documentary club will spotlight these films and the previously announced FAMILY AFFAIR, focusing on cinematic documentaries that encourage emerging creative voices to bring their stories to a mainstream television audience on OWN.

"All of these documentaries fundamentally explore human interaction, relationships and emotions," said Lisa Erspamer, chief creative officer, OWN. "We're excited to provide viewers with new perspectives and new ways of looking at core themes that shape and affect their lives."     Read more
 
 
Winfrey Network acquires 'Perdition'
Jeff Vice, movie critic
Entertainment now
Deseret News
Originally published July 29, 2010

Congratulations to Utah filmmakers Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten.  Their documentary "Sons of Perdition" is not only one of the featured selections of the 2010 Salt Lake City Film Festival, it was also acquired by the Oprah Winfrey Network.  "Sons of Perdition" is an investigation of the polygamist community in Colorado City, Ariz. The film and five other, social-issue documentaries were acquired by the OWN for part of its newly developed Documentary Film Club programing.  Current plans are to broadcast "Sons of Perdition" next spring.  "Oprah's ongoing commitment to penetrating, humane journalism and true appreciation for the importance of storytelling, make us both delighted and proud to be part of the OWN brand." co-director Merten said.  "Sons of Perdition" has been featured in several national festivals and will screen locally at the Salt Lake City Film Festival, which runs Aug. 12-15.  Screenings and other events for this year's festival will be held at Brewvies Cinema Pub, the Broadway Centre Cinemas, the Post Theatre (Fort Douglas) and the Tower Theatre.  Other information on the festival, including ticketing, is available at www.saltlakecityfilmfestival.com     See photo
 
 
Read the Oprah Winfrey Network Acquires Polygamy Film Press Release dated July 29, 2010
 
 
Reason.tv: The Sons of Perdition Filmmakers on Warren Jeffs' Polygamist Church
Reason.tv
Originally broadcast July 29, 2010

Should the government intervene in polygamist communities like the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS)? What if the polygamy involves under-aged girls?

This week Warren Jeffs, the FLDS leader found guilty of facilitating the rape of one of his 14-year-old followers, was granted a new trial by the Utah Supreme Court.

A new documentary, The Sons of Perdition, profiles three teenage boys who are exiled from Jeffs' compound in Colorado City, AZ. Directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merton follow the boys as they face the challenges of living without family support, assimilating into a new society, and trying to get their other siblings out of the FLDS compound. (View the film's trailer here.)

Reason.tv Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie sat down with Merton and Measom to discuss freedom of religion, the making of the film, and what the future holds for these exiled boys.

Approximately 9 minutes. Shot by Dan Hayes and Jack Gillespie. Edited by Josh Swain.
 
 
 
Salt Lake City Film Festival to screen more than 20 narrative and documentary features
By Jeff Vice
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010

Even the organizers and creators of the Salt Lake City Film Festival weren't entirely convinced the event would survive its first year.  As festival co-director Matt Whittaker explained, "Last year could have gone any which way. Our fingers were crossed the entire time with the hope that people would show up.  "It wasn't easy marketing a film festival with no budget to market with," Whittaker continued.  "Our whole push was so grass roots, and, well ... awesome."  But co-director Chris Bradshaw says he and Whittaker were relieved "when some of the bigger screenings started and the crowds were pouring out of the theater entrance.  "It was that realization that made me even more pleased with our event," Bradshaw continued.  "Our community is amazing at supporting the arts."  Both men say that the event, which was originally envisioned as a one-day festival, has "snowballed" in just a year.  In fact, "we had to put a saddle on (the) growth," Bradshaw said.  This year's festival has expanded to two more venues: Brewvies Cinema Pub and Broadway Centre.  (They join the Post Theatre at Fort Douglas and the Tower Theatre, the festival's supposed "home base.")  Those theaters will host a full slate of independent film programming.  This year's festival will screen more than 20 narrative and documentary features, as well as an equal number of other, shorter works.  Bradshaw and Whittaker say the 2010 selections stack up favorably with the 2009 ones.  (Among last year's features were "Best Worst Movie" and "White on Rice," both of which were hits with the crowds and got theatrical distribution.)  Also, "a lot of our films in this year's programming have significant Utah roots, and we like that," Whittaker said.  They include two sure-to-be-talked-about documentaries: "Cleanflix," about the controversial movie-editing business, and "Sons of Perdition," which looks at the Colorado City polygamist community.     Read more
 
 
Local film festival opens with 'Cleanflix' documentary
By Sandy Schaefer
Arts
The Daily Utah Chronicle - University of Utah
Originally published Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Salt Lake City Film Festival — a creative outlet for both international and local Utah filmmakers — was held for the first time last year.  This year, the festival begins at the end of this week.  Screenings will begin Thursday, Aug. 12 and will continue through to the 15.  More than 40 films will be shown during that time period, including 10 documentaries, nine narratives and 22 shorts.  These features will be shown at not only the festival's "home base"” of the Tower Theatre, but also the Post Theatre on the U campus; Brewvies Cinema Pub; and the Broadway Theater in downtown Salt Lake City.  Festival directors Chris Bradshaw and Matt Whittaker were both relatively accomplished film and video producers in their own right when they took it upon themselves to begin the event in 2009.  With the assistance of a collection of local cinephiles and film lovers, the two have attracted a sizable number of sponsors to help market and support the festivities.  One of the films likely to attract sizable crowds at the event is that of the opening-night feature, "Cleanflix," a documentary about the Utah family-friendly video store that edited movies for profit — despite not having legal permission to do so.  Another real-life tale that should connect with local attendees is that of "Sons of Perdition," a film that chronicles the plight of a group of boys that left their polygamist compound in order to try to survive in the real world.  Ticket prices vary for different films and the full schedule can be viewed online at the Salt Lake City Film Festival's website www.slcff.com.  Tickets can be purchased online and are available at the Tower and Broadway theater box offices during certain hours, which are also listed on the website.

s.schaefer@chronicle.utah.edu
 
 
New in Paperback
Lost Boy
By Donna Marchetti
The Plain Dealer - Cleveland Live
Originally published Friday, August 20, 2010

Lost Boy

Brent W. Jeffs with Maia Szalavitz (Broadway, 235 pp.)

$14.99

Author Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who was found guilty of acting as an accomplice to rape in 2007.  (Last month, the verdict was overturned, and he faces a retrial.)  Brent, who was the first person to file sexual-abuse charges against his uncle, tells the story of his childhood and adolescence in the polygamist sect, one in a household of 25 that included his father, his father's three wives -- two of whom were sisters -- and 21 children.  While Warren Jeffs may be known best by the public for arranging marriages of underage girls to older men, the wrongdoings described here are even darker.  Brent writes of being raped as a preschooler repeatedly by his uncle, and of his prolonged suffering.  Eventually, he says, he learned that the elder Jeffs had raped two of his brothers as well.  One committed suicide.  The emotions in this account are raw, and it is wrenching to read.  But it sheds a great deal of light on why even the most severely victimized find it difficult to leave their abuser, and why they often crumble if they do.
 
 
Sons of Perdition
Directed by Tyler Measom, Jennilynn Merten. STC. 85 min. Doc Soup series screening Oct 6, 6:30pm & 9:15pm at the Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor W).
By Kieran Grant
Movie Review
Eye Weekly - Toronto Ontario
Originally published September 29, 2010

The monthly Doc Soup series kicks off a new season with directors Tyler Measom and Jennilynn Merten's decidedly restrained chronicle of several young exiles from Warren Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) — the polygamist sect that became headline fodder following Jeffs' 2007 conviction for arranging illegal marriages between adult men and underage girls.  Greeted, not unreasonably, as a grim real-life flipside to polygamy-themed hit TV drama Big Love, Sons of Perdition ought to be required additional viewing for fans of that show.  This is also a morality tale and not a religious one, the implication being that the rejection of Jeffs' regime has nothing to do with Mormonism or even Christianity.  Measom and Merten pull no punches when it comes to portraying the forces back on the FLDS compound as sinister and dangerous — especially for the female exiles and would-be exiles we meet.  Yet they display an even hand as they watch the boys, some as young as 15, struggle to fit into mainstream society over the course of a year.  While that process seems to require much hair dye, out-of-date street wear and some dabbling in methamphetamine, the filmmakers present their subjects less as rebels than as thoughtful, keenly determined young men edging into a new and unexpected life.  At least one teen, Joe, is so wise beyond his years that his quest to re-establish his family away from the FLDS is both heartening and tragic, though the tragedy is mitigated by interviews with veteran exiles that provide an undercurrent of hope.  Sons of Perdition is that rare movie-going experience: an American cultural study that doubles as a testament to individuality's triumph over sheer creepiness.

Email us at: LETTERS@EYEWEEKLY.COM or send your questions to EYEWEEKLY.COM
1 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor, Toronto Ontario, M5E 1E6
    See photo
 
 
The one thing you should see this week
To Do List
Toronto Life
Originally published Monday, October 4, 2010

Today we launch a new column from our culture editor, Stιphanie Verge, who'll let us in on the week's must-see event every Monday.

This week's pick: Sons of Perdition

There's no going home for a child who can say with unflinching certainty that according to his family, "It would have been better for me to die than to leave." The bewilderment that stems from giving up everything permeates Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten's heartrending documentary about three teens who leave the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and are left twisting in the wind of their newfound freedom.

Sam, his cousin Bruce and their friend Joe grew up in Colorado City, otherwise known as The Crick, on the Utah-Arizona border. Controlled by Warren Jeffs, the now-incarcerated head of the FLDS, The Crick is populated by ultra-conservative Mormons who send their boys to work instead of school and marry off their underage daughters to older men with multiple wives. Over the past decade, more than 1,000 boys and men have been sent away from The Crick—ostensibly because of their rebellious natures, though whittling down the number of rivals for the women is another glaring factor.     Read more
 
 
'Sons of Perdition' a chilling look at Mormon splinter group
By Constance Droganes
Entertainment
CTV - Toronto, Ontario
Originally published Thursday Oct. 7, 2010

Imagine living in a polygamist Mormon community run by a would-be messiah.  This so-called "spiritual" leader marries young girls off to older men, sometimes three-times the brides' age.  He separates children from their parents at a whim.  He also preaches to his followers: Do what you're told or you'll burn in hell.  It's an appalling scenario, the kind that no reasonable mind can imagine in modern-day North America.  Yet this is the setting from which three teenaged boys escape.  Their journey for freedom is the heart of the new documentary, "Sons of Perdition."  This powerful drama from directors Tyler Measom and Jennilynn Merten kicked off 2010's new season of monthly screenings as part of Toronto's acclaimed Doc Soup series.  "Sons of Perdition" is so compelling, in fact, that it was purchased by Oprah Winfrey's production company.  It will be screened in 2011 on her OWN network.  "This was a story we had to tell," Measom told CTV.ca, on a visit to Toronto this week.  "Jenny and I both quit the Mormon Church," he says.  Measom was 23 when he left his faith.  Merten was 21.  Neither of them had belonged to the extreme kind of fundamentalists sects portrayed in the film.  "But we saw a lot of ourselves in these boys and in their struggles in the outside world," he says.  "That's why they trusted us. They knew that we understood where they were coming from."     Read more
 
 
Documentary delves into a dark corner of Utah
Andy Williams
Entertainment Editor
The Gauntlet - University of Calgary
Originally published November 18, 2010

Some documentaries focus on an interesting subject, but leave questions unanswered.  Some documentaries do an excellent job thoroughly researching uninteresting subject matter.  Sons of Perdition, however, is a magnificent blend of an interesting subject that is adeptly and effectively dealt with, and the end result is a thoughtful and provoking look into a captivating and horrifying corner of society.  The film, by Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten, focuses on the remarkable story of the "sons of perdition" -- boys who leave their homes in the Fundamental Latter Day Saints stronghold of Colorado City (frequently referred to as the Crick or Boulder Creek).  The FLDS are a sect of Mormonism.  They split from the larger church when, in 1890, mainstream Mormonism decreed that multiple marriages should be eliminated.  The inhabitants of Colorado City are avid practitioners of polygamy under the supervision of prophet Warren Jeffs.  The leadership and direction of the so-called prophet has markedly isolated the city.  Jeffs outlawed most forms of recreation, insisting that piety and work are life's most important virtues.  Books and public schools are banned and anyone who challenges Jeffs' authority is banished from the community, their children and wives distributed among other families.     Read more
 
 
FTC sues Internet companies for credit card, debit card scam
Scam led to hundreds of thousands of customers to seek chargebacks, suit alleges
By Steve Green
Las Vegas Sun
Originally published Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010

The Federal Trade Commission sued scores of interrelated Internet companies operating mainly out St. George, Utah, and Las Vegas on Tuesday saying they victimized hundreds of thousands of consumers by charging their credit cards and debit cards without authorization.  The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, says the network of companies — including dozens of shell companies around the county — was organized by defendant Jeremy Johnson of St. George, Utah.  A message for comment was left for Johnson.  "The defendants in this case operate a far-reaching Internet enterprise that deceptively enrolls unwitting consumers into memberships for products or services and then repeatedly charges their credit cards or debits funds from their checking accounts without consumers' knowledge or authorization for memberships the consumers never agreed to accept," the government agency charged in the suit.  "This scam has caused hundreds of thousands of consumers to seek chargebacks — reversals of charges to their credit cards or debits to their banks accounts.  "The high number of chargebacks has landed the defendants in VISA's and MasterCard's chargeback monitoring programs, resulted in millions of dollars in fines for excessive chargebacks, and led to the termination of numerous of defendants' merchant accounts through which they had been billing their victims.  "Yet, rather than curing their deceptions, defendants have employed a variety of stratagems to continue and expand their scam, thereby causing unreimbursed consumer injury to mount" to millions of dollars since 2006, the lawsuit says."     Read more
 
 
Read the FTC complaint against Jeremy Johnson originally filed December 21, 2010 and the unredacted copy filed January 12, 2011
 
 
Utah man charged in federal Internet fraud case
The Associated Press
Las Vegas Sun
Originally published Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

The Federal Trade Commission is accusing a Utah pilot of using his companies to scam consumers out of millions of dollars through fraudulent credit card charges.  IWorks Inc. owner Jeremy Johnson of St. George and nine others were named in a civil complaint filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.  Federal investigators said Johnson's company lured consumers into product memberships for government grants and other moneymaking programs, then charged credit or debit cards for ongoing services.  Investigators said hundreds sought to have the charges reversed, landing Johnson in hot water with credit card companies.  That led to millions of dollars in fines and the termination of some merchant accounts, through which Johnson's companies had billed consumers.  In court papers, investigators said that to get around the problem, Johnson and others formed more than 50 shell companies using "mail-drop addresses and straw-figures as owners and officers" and applied for new merchant accounts through third-party payment processing firms.  "They have also attempted to drive down their chargeback rates by threatening to report consumers who seek charges to an Internet consumer blacklist they operate called "BadCustomer.com" that will 'result in member merchants blocking (the consumer) from making their purchases online,'" court papers said.  Johnson is a well-known Utah philanthropist who has used his personal aircraft to aid state law enforcement agencies with search-and-rescue operations.  He has donated generously to charities, including funding a St. George home for boys allegedly pushed out of Utah polygamist sect.  A $50,000 donor to the Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's campaign, Johnson also used his personal fortunes to purchase a plane and fly food, doctors and other critical goods to Haiti following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.     Read more
 
 
FTC Sues Over 'Free' Government Grant Scams
By Beau Brendler
DailyFinance - An AOL Money & Finance Site
Originally broadcast December 23, 2010

Ever been bilked by one of those Web sites offering to help you find 'free' government grants?  The FTC said today it sued a "massive Internet enterprise" that raked in millions of dollars by using 51 phony companies to charge consumers as much as $60 a month plus a $130-a-year annual fee to track down those grants, which don't actually exist.  The operation called itself I Works, and used web sites that claimed free money was available from the government in the form of Small Business Administration loans to help pay personal bills, or sold other types of money-making schemes, using the words "risk-free" and "free."  The catch?  The scammers asked consumers to provide a credit or debit card number to pay for a shipping and handling fee of, say, $1.99 to send the information.  However, once I Works got the credit card numbers, it ran a variety of charges on them for programs people did not agree to buy.  The FTC says the scammers were first caught by attracting Visa and MasterCard's attention, due to the significant number of people who called their credit card companies and refused to pay the unauthorized charges.  But once the chargebacks hit and the scammers were shut out of billing systems, they managed to keep communication channels to banks open by creating 51 shell companies, complete with fake executives and web sites.  Named in the FTC's complaint are Jeremy Johnson and nine others.  This is not Johnson's first brush with controversy.  Two years ago Johnson, whose company did business out of St. George, Utah, was cited by the Utah Division of Consumer Protection for 49 counts of charging a consumer for non-consensual transactions and other types of fraud, according to this account in a Salt Lake City, Utah newsweekly.     Read more
 
 
FTC files fraud complaint against St. George helicopter pilot
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY — A St. George man who routinely uses his helicopter to provide humanitarian aid and assist law enforcement allegedly scammed millions of dollars from consumers by charging their credit cards for services they did not agree to.  The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint Wednesday against Jeremy Johnson and nine others in U.S. District Court for Nevada.  The complaint alleges Johnson's company, I Works, lured people into "trial" memberships for bogus government grants and moneymaking schemes and then repeatedly charged them monthly fees for programs they didn't sign up for.  "No consumer should be sucker-punched into making payments for products they don't know about or don't want," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a press release.  Johnson, a multimillionaire, flew his helicopter to Haiti shortly after the earthquake there in January to deliver food to starving people.  He also transported injured Haitians and sick orphans to hospitals.  He made several trips back to the country in the months following the earthquake.  He has taken to the skies numerous times to help search and rescue teams look for lost hikers.  Just last month, he helped Grand County authorities search for the man police believe shot a Utah Parks and Recreation officer.  The FTC complaint wasn't unexpected.  "We've been dealing with them for a year, but we couldn't come to an agreement, so I guess they sued us yesterday," Johnson said.  He referred questions to his attorney, Mark Schamel, who specializes in securities cases.  "I Works and its employees ran a legitimate business for legitimate services and for legitimate products," said Schamel, who is based in Washington, D.C.  "We're hopeful that will carry the day."  Johnson's business uses what is known as negative option marketing, a common practice used by scores of companies in which consumers must specifically opt out of a service to keep from being billed for it.     Read more
 
 
FTC charges local rescue pilot
i-Works owner accused of charging consumers without permission
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published December 24, 2010

ST. GEORGE - Fresh off lending his helicopter to a humanitarian effort during this week's flooding, St. George resident Jeremy Johnson is facing charges from the Federal Trade Commission alleging Internet companies he owns or organized victimized hundreds of thousands of consumers by charging them without permission for "bogus" services.  The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, alleges that Johnson and nine other defendants made millions "by luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships that they never signed up for."  "No consumer should be sucker-punched into making payments for products they don't know about and don't want," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a press release.  According to the FTC's release, Johnson and the other defendants, which include family members, have also attempted to keep consumers from having the credit and debit card charges taken back by threatening to report them "to an Internet consumer blacklist they operate."  Johnson adamantly denied the charges during an interview at his St. George office Thursday, saying he was "disappointed" as to why the FTC would come after his company and contending that he would be vindicated when all the facts were presented in court.  Johnson is the owner of iWorks Inc., a marketing company that started in 2000 and sells products on the Internet for client companies.  The FTC linked Johnson and iWorks to 51 other "shell" companies, but did not allege that the companies were used to hide improprieties.  Johnson said the other companies are set up to help eliminate fraud by isolating bad clients.     Read more
 
 
5 Questions With Tyler Measom And Jennilyn Merten
The Calgary Herald - Calgary, Alberta
Originally published December 24, 2010

Being a teenager is never an easy proposition. But imagine all the insecurity and uncertainty that comes with those formative years compounded by being cut off from everyone you've ever known. Sons of Perdition is a documentary centred on three boys who have been kicked out of their fundamentalist Mormon church (FLDS) by its leader Warren Jeffs. Co-directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten both left the mainstream Mormon church in their 20s and know how hard it is for anyone to re-evaluate their faith. They talked with Jon Roe ahead of the Sons of Perdition screening and Q&A with Measom at The Plaza as part of Doc Soup.

What was it like leaving the Mormon church?

J.M. Luckily for Tyler and me, we're still in contact with our families. When we heard about the kids, we were like, "Oh my god, this is what we've been doing for the last 10, 15 years (but) to a much greater degree." This is about coming of age, trying to figure out who you are and making some really crazy sacrifices for it.

For you, what is most compelling about these boys' story?

T.M. For me, (the fact) they're told they're going to hell. Hell is a very visceral and real place, not only in the faith that we grew up in, but even more so in the FLDS. And that's all they knew. You ask them and they say there was very little talk about heaven. You can leave Colorado City (the home of the FLDS), but how do you leave Colorado City in your mind?     Read more
 
 
Action taken against bank tied to company in fraud case
By Steve Green
Las Vegas Sun
Originally published Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010

Regulators disclosed Thursday they've taken action against a small Utah bank that processed transactions for a company named in a $275 million fraud lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission in Las Vegas.  The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Thursday said SunFirst Bank of St. George, Utah, signed a consent order Nov. 9 related to its dealings with companies including Elite Debit, which was named in the FTC's Las Vegas fraud lawsuit filed Dec. 21.  In announcing the lawsuit, the FTC said Elite Debit was part of "a far-reaching Internet enterprise that allegedly has made millions of dollars by luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships that they never signed up for."  The FTC said the enterprise -- doing business under the names Elite Debit, I Works and scores of shell companies in Utah, Nevada and other states -- is controlled by St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson and nine other individuals.  Johnson has denied the allegations.  In court papers filed this week in Las Vegas federal court, FTC attorneys for the first time quantified the alleged scheme, saying it caused losses to consumers nationwide of more than $275 million since 2006.  The government attorneys also said they're preparing to ask a Nevada federal judge to appoint a receiver for the 61 corporate defendants, to freeze the assets of the corporate defendants and to freeze Johnson's assets personally.  By freezing the assets, the government can then try to seize them should it prevail in the case.  In the FDIC action against SunFirst Bank, the bank agreed to the issuance of a consent order without admitting or denying allegations of unsafe or unsound banking practices.  SunFirst, with four branches in Utah's Washington and Iron counties, agreed to cease providing third-party payment processing -- unless approved by the FDIC -- to any third-party payment processor and specifically to "Triple Seven LLC, Mastery Merchant LLC, Powder Monkeys LLC, Elite Debit and its associated accountholders, customers, and clients."     Read more
 
 
Read the FDIC's Consent Order to SunFirst Bank regarding Jeremy Johnson
 
 
The Vent
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published January 01, 2011

Why would people call an Internet scammer a hero? I bet the people who were bilked of millions of dollars don't find any heroics in the hell they were put through.  The biggest question is will Utah Attorney General do the job elected to protect the public or provide $50,000 worth of protection to an agency involved in public Internet scams?
 
 
The Vent
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published January 01, 2011

For every comment about a local businessman being a hero, there seems to be thousands of comments on Internet boards in regards to someone being taken for hundreds to thousands of dollars in Internet scams run by the same person.  Let's only hope Utah's Attorney General's office works to protect the public, not an Internet scammer.  But how much protection does $50,000 buy?
 
 
Feds say St. George helicopter pilot's company made $275 million in alleged scam
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Federal authorities intend to freeze the assets of a wealthy St. George businessman who they say masterminded an Internet-based scam that took consumers for more than $275 million since 2006.  In documents filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada, the Federal Trade Commission revealed plans to also seek a preliminary injunction against Jeremy Johnson, nine others and 61 companies pending the outcome of complaint filed against what it calls the "I Works Enterprise."  The FTC last month filed a 10-count complaint against Johnson and his associates alleging I Works "tricked" consumers into providing credit or debit card information for various moneymaking plans and access to government grants and then repeatedly billing them for membership in websites they never agreed to join.  The scheme, according to court documents, caused hundreds of thousands of people to seek reversals of charges to their bank accounts.  The high number of chargebacks landed the companies in VISA and MasterCard monitoring programs.  Court documents say the defendants incorporated "shell" companies using mail-drop addresses and "straw figures" as owners because it was unlikely they could obtain additional merchant accounts due to the negative chargeback history.  Johnson made headlines last year for his humanitarian efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti where he used his helicopter to rescue injured victims and drop food to homeless people.  He has also flown in search-and rescue-operations, manhunts and natural disasters in southern Utah.  Johnson, who has denied any wrongdoing, said last month he had been working with the FTC for a year to resolve the agency's complaints.  During that time, Johnson provided the commission with volumes of documents marked confidential.  The FTC blacked out much of that information in its initial complaint, but says in its latest court filing little, if any, of it warrants confidential treatment because it has been publicly disseminated or is contained in other litigation involving Johnson and I Works.  The FTC asked to court to allow it to file an unredacted complaint.  Federal court records show Johnson has been sued three times in the past decade.     Read more
 
 
Sons of Perdition sheds light on dark world
By Eric Volmers
Calgary Herald
Originally published January 4, 2011

CALGARY - As filmmakers, it's understandable that Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten would be hoping for some real-life drama and turmoil to unfold while shooting the documentary Sons of Perdition.  A film about teenagers exiled from their home and family by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the premise certainly promised drama.  But, specifically, the co-directors were hoping they would be able to capture money-shot footage of someone fleeing the insular and secretive border-town community of Colorado City.  They ended up getting more than they could use.  The harrowing opener of the film, in fact, involves two teens returning to their former town for an impromptu rescue of a younger sister from her home.  The filmmakers themselves drive the getaway car.  "The day that it happened, we went out there to visit one of the moms to see if one of the kids could talk to her," says Merten, in a phone interview.  "And, then there's this 14-year-old girl making an escape."  "When we went into the film we thought 'It would be very great if we could get somebody leaving,' " adds Measom, who will be attending Wednesday's Doc Soup screening of the film at the Plaza Theatre.  "But we didn't know how that would happen. They are so secretive and so quiet and it happens without notice, one minute they are out and don't trust anybody. But we didn't get it once, we got it four or five times."  "More than we wanted, actually," admits Merten.     Read more
 
 
Las Vegas man says he was defrauded in businessman's alleged scheme
By Steve Green
Las Vegas Sun
Originally published Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Las Vegas businessman says in a new lawsuit he was defrauded by Utah businessman Jeremy Johnson, who already faces a Federal Trade Commission complaint in what the FTC calls an Internet billing scheme that cost consumers nationwide $275 million.  Newly-unsealed Utah federal court documents show the Las Vegas businessman, Chad Elie, filed suit on Dec. 28 seeking $20 million against Johnson and several co-defendants in the St. George, Utah, area.  The codefendants in the new Utah case are SunFirst Bank -- which has already been hit with a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. enforcement action over its dealings with Johnson -- an entity called Triple Seven LLC, and executives Scott Leavitt, Jason T. Vowell, Todd L. Vowell, Loyd Johnston and Kerry Johnson.  The FTC lawsuit filed in Las Vegas on Dec. 21 against Johnson claims he and his companies including I Works and Elite Debit scammed consumers by luring them into obtaining trial memberships for bogus services and then repeatedly charging their credit and debit cards monthly fees for the worthless services.  Johnson has denied those allegations.  Elie says in his Utah lawsuit he is the CEO of Florida company Viable Marketing Corp.  Records show he also has a Las Vegas company called 21Debit that's involved in the payment processing industry.  Records in Florida show Viable Marketing has had its own issues.  It was named in a Feb. 17, 2010, statement from Florida's Attorney General and the FTC as one of several companies that received subpoenas investigating potential violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.  The Viable Marketing subpoena related to "unauthorized recurring charges" associated with a work-at-home Internet business opportunity.  One of Elie's attorneys on Thursday said he believe that investigation is now closed and that he was looking into it.  Elie says in the new Utah lawsuit that he provides "Check21" e-payment processing services for online merchants whose customers prefer to pay over the Internet by check or debits from their banks instead of using credit cards.  Elie says he became acquainted with Johnson during a trade show in 2009 and that Johnson represented he had a trusted relationship with SunFirst.  Elie says that Johnson told him that in exchange for become 50/50 partners, Elie could begin processing payments for his online merchants through SunFirst.     Read more
 
 
Nevada man claims St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson owes him $20 million
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Jan. 14, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A Nevada man claims St. George businessman and helicopter humanitarian Jeremy Johnson owes him $20 million.  Chad Elie, who owns a company called Viable Marketing, filed a federal lawsuit in late December alleging Johnson reneged on an Internet business deal.  The lawsuit which, in addition to Johnson, names his father and several business associates, is sealed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.  But Elie lays out his allegations in a 13-page declaration filed in the case last week.  Elie runs an e-payment processing company for merchants whose customers prefer to pay online by check or debits to their bank accounts instead of using credit cards.  He and Johnson agreed in November 2009 to a deal in which Elie could process the transactions through Sunfirst bank in St. George.  "As a result of his trusted relationship with Sunfirst, Johnson represented to me that he was in a unique position to ensure that I could successfully process for my online merchants," Elie wrote.  The two agreed to split the profits in half.  The partnership netted about $40 million in a year, according to the declaration.  The lawsuit comes on the heels of a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint against Johnson alleging he and eight associates run online businesses that lured people into memberships for bogus government grants and moneymaking schemes and then repeatedly charged them monthly fees for programs they didn't sign up for.  Federal authorities are seeking to freeze Johnson's assets in that case in which the SEC contends Johnson made $275 million.     Read more
 
 
Read the US Distrist Court of Central Utah's Memorandum Decision and Order Denying Motion for Prejudgment Writ and Temporay Restraining Order regarding Chad Elie vs Jeremy Johnson, et. al., dated December 28, 2010
 
 
Read Chad Elie's lawsuit filed against Jeremy Johnson on January 7, 2011
 
 
Read the FTC's Complaint against Jeremy Johnson, many other individuals and dozens of shell companies, filed in the US Distrist Court of Nevada January 12, 2011
 
 
Read the FTC's Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of a Preliminary Injunction and Expedited Hearing Thereon over the assets of Jeremy Johnson, Individually and as Officer of Defendants I Works, Inc., et al. filed in the US Distrist Court of Nevada January 12, 2011
 
 
Read the FTC's Motion for Leave to Intervene regarding the lawsuit of Chad Elie vs Jeremy Johnson, filed in the US Distrist Court of Central Utah January 13, 2011
 
 
Read Judge Kent Dawson's Emergency Order for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion to Appoint Receiver over the assets of Jeremy Johnson, Individually and as Officer of Defendants I Works, Inc., et al. filed in the US Distrist Court of Nevada January 13, 2011
 
 
Las Vegas judge freezes assets of Utah businessman in fraud case
By Steve Green
Las Vegas Sun
Originally published Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011

A federal judge in Las Vegas has frozen the assets of St. George, Utah, businessman Jeremy Johnson and scores of associated companies -- a freeze giving the Federal Trade Commission a chance to seize the assets for the benefit of consumers allegedly defrauded by Johnson and the companies.  A lengthy temporary restraining order freezing the assets of Johnson and associated companies was secretly issued Jan. 13 by U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson.  It was unsealed Tuesday.  Dawson also appointed Robb Evans of Robb Evans and Associates LLC as temporary receiver to supervise the corporate defendants sued by the FTC and the assets of Johnson.  Robb Evans' company says it has offices in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Greenwich, Conn., and for years has been involved with supervising enterprises upon appointments suggested by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the state of California Department of Financial Institutions and the FTC.  It also worked with lenders and creditors to collect delinquent obligations.  Johnson and the corporate defendants were ordered to provide an accounting of their assets and finances to the temporary receiver.  The FTC claims Johnson and his companies including I Works and Elite Debit scammed consumers out of $275 million by luring them into obtaining trial memberships for bogus services and then repeatedly charging their credit and debit cards monthly fees for the worthless services.  Johnson has denied those allegations.     Read more
 
 
Federal judge freezes assets of iWorks, Jeremy Johnson in alleged Internet fraud case
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge in Nevada has temporarily frozen the assets of a multimillionaire St. George businessman who the Federal Trade Commission alleges runs a fraudulent far-reaching Internet enterprise.  U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson also appointed a receiver to take control of iWorks and 60 other companies operated by Jeremy Johnson and nine associates.  The FTC next week will ask the court to impose those orders for the duration of the case, which could take years to resolve.  "There is good cause to believe that irreparable damage to the court's ability to grant effective final relief for consumers in the form or monetary redress will occur from the sale, transfer or other disposition or concealment by Jeremy Johnson and the corporate defendants of assets or records unless Jeremy Johnson and the corporate defendants are immediately restrained and enjoined by order of this court," Dawson's ruling said.  The FTC last month initiated legal action against iWorks for allegedly scamming consumers out of $275 million by billing them online for products and services they didn't order.  A complaint filed in federal court in Las Vegas alleges the company offers bogus moneymaking and government grant opportunities on various websites.  Those who sign up for the "risk-free" offers are charged monthly fees and enrolled in other programs without their knowledge, according to the complaint.  Johnson has denied any wrongdoing.  Freezing the assets means Johnson can't sell, trade or otherwise move anything he owns such as stocks, real estate and cash.  In addition to Johnson, the order applies to the other defendants: Duane Fielding, Andy Johnson, Loyd Johnston, Scott Leavitt, Scott Muir, Bryce Payne, Kevin Pilon, Ryan Riddle and Terrason Spinks.     Read more
 
 
Feds freeze assets of Johnson
Scott Kerbs
The Spectrum
Originally published January 21, 2011

ST. GEORGE - A federal judge has frozen assets belonging to St. George resident Jeremy Johnson, who is known locally for assisting in search and rescue operations, but is named in a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging illegal business practices.  U.S. District Court Judge Kent J. Dawson approved a motion for a temporary restraining order Jan. 13 filed by the FTC, freezing the assets of the local businessman and 61 corporations in the process.  Johnson is one of 10 defendants facing charges related to allegedly victimizing hundreds of thousands of consumers by charging them for goods and services without their permission through Internet companies.  Duane Fielding, Andy Johnson, Loyd Johnston, Scott Leavitt, Scott Muir, Bryce Payne, Kevin Pilon, Ryan Riddle and Terrason Spinks are also named as defendants in the U.S. District Court case.  "We want to make certain that there are funds available to return to consumers who were victimized by what we see as a scam," FTC attorney Collot Guerard said Thursday.  The agency alleges consumers lost $275 million.  The FTC alleges Johnson and the other defendants made millions through iWorks and related Internet companies "by luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships that they never signed up for."  Johnson's attorney Michael Shaw, of Jones Waldo in St. George, described the FTC's efforts to freeze Johnson's assets as "bullying" and said he expects the temporary restraining order to have a significant impact on his client.  "I think that it's a very sad day whenever our government can make some allegations against someone and then sequester their assets to cripple their ability to defend against those allegations," he said.  With Johnson's assets frozen, Shaw said the court ruling would likely prevent him from lending helicopter support to local search and rescue operations.     Read more
 
 
Man accused in nationwide scam lost millions at Las Vegas casinos, officials say
By Steve Green
Las Vegas Sun
Originally published Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011

A Utah man implicated in a $275 million scam victimizing consumers nationwide gambled away and lost millions of dollars at Las Vegas casinos and by playing Internet poker, investigators say.  Documents newly filed in Las Vegas federal court by the Federal Trade Commission allege Jeremy Johnson of St. George, Utah, gambled away some of his money even after he was ordered by the FTC to preserve his assets because he had been targeted in an FTC investigation.  The FTC says Johnson and his companies scammed consumers out of $275 million by luring them into obtaining trial memberships for bogus services and then repeatedly charging their credit and debit cards monthly fees for the worthless services.  Johnson's attorneys deny these allegations.  The documents about Johnson's gambling were filed in advance of a hearing in which government attorneys are trying to extend a temporary order freezing the assets of Johnson and scores of associated companies.  By freezing the assets, the government can try to seize and liquidate them in order to make restitution to the alleged victims.  A court-appointed receiver company that has been sorting through the assets of Johnson and his companies reported to the court this week that Johnson's I Works company and related companies generated $332 million since 2000 in revenue related to their Internet businesses.  Of that amount, "$59 million was dissipated by supporting lavish lifestyles and investments in real properties, aircraft, vehicles, businesses, brokerage trading accounts, precious metals and was distributed or loaned to family, friends and related entities," the receiver reported.  While sustaining millions of dollars in gambling losses, Johnson, known in Utah as a philanthropist, through I Works over the years gave $1.5 million to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its Little Valley 5th Ward in St. George, the receiver reported.  Samuel Jacobson, an FTC investigator, said in a court declaration Wednesday that Johnson has been a frequent gambler at Wynn Las Vegas, the MGM Grand, other MGM Resorts International properties and also gambled extensively at the online site fulltiltpoker.com.  Tiltware LLC, owner of the website, last month provided information to the FTC showing Johnson played there using the name ginette22.  Between April and October 2010, Johnson lost $1.536 million on the poker site, Jacobson said.     Read more
 
 
Read Robb Evans' Report of Temporary Receiver's Activities January 13, 2011 through February 4, 2011 regarding the assets of Jeremy Johnson, filed February 8, 2011
 
 
Read the Preliminary Injunction Order appointing a Receiver to oversee the assets of Jeremy Johnson, filed February 10, 2011
 
 
Johnson to fight injunction
Scott Kerbs
The Spectrum
Originally published February 10, 2011

ST. GEORGE - A hearing on a preliminary injunction is scheduled in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas today, to determine whether to continue a temporary freeze on the assets of St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson and 61 corporations following a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging illegal business practices.  Johnson, who is well known in Southern Utah for assisting in local search and rescue operations, is one of ten defendants facing charges related to allegedly victimizing hundreds of thousands of consumers by charging them without their permission through Internet companies.  The FTC alleges Johnson and the other defendants made millions through iWorks and related Internet companies "by luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships that they never signed up for."  The FTC alleges consumers lost $275 million through iWorks and related companies.  FTC attorney Collot Guerard said a preliminary injunction is necessary to continue the freeze on Johnson's assets.  "The FTC is seeking to get money back to consumers that we see as victims of the iWorks enterprise," she said, adding that the freeze would prevent the defendants from spending the assets prior to the court's ruling.  While the court is expected to determine whether the FTC has presented sufficient evidence to warrant the continuation of the asset freeze, Guerard said she is uncertain if the U.S. District Court judge will make a ruling today.     Read more
 
 
Johnson's assets to remain frozen
Scott Kerbs
The Spectrum
Originally published February 11, 2011

LAS VEGAS - A U.S. District Court judge granted a preliminary injunction Thursday intended to continue a freeze on the assets belonging to St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson and 61 corporations following a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging illegal business practices.  In what FTC attorneys described as an indication of their likelihood to succeed in the case, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Roger L. Hunt approved the motion for a preliminary injunction Thursday during a hearing at the Lloyd D. George U.S. District Courthouse in Las Vegas.  Johnson, who is well known in the community for assisting in local search and rescue operations, is one of 10 defendants facing charges related to allegedly victimizing consumers by charging them without their permission through Internet companies.  The FTC alleges consumers lost $275 million while Johnson and the other defendants profited through iWorks and related Internet companies "by luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships that they never signed up for."  "It looked like they were trying to avoid detection in what they were doing," Hunt said of iWorks while speaking briefly about his decision to grant the injunction.  FTC attorney Collot Guerard said the continuation of the freeze on Johnson's assets would serve to preserve the funds for alleged victims.  "The FTC - if it wins its case - will be able to use the assets to get money back to consumers we believe were defrauded," she said.  In addition to continuing the freeze on Johnson's assets, the preliminary injunction order also includes restrictions prohibiting the defendants from marketing grant programs and operating websites related to selling grant programs.  Following the hearing, Johnson voiced his displeasure with the court's ruling and argued that his company provided adequate information to its customers.  "The FTC's purpose here is to stifle our defense by tying all our money up," he said, referring to the continued asset freeze.  "They want to pound you into a settlement."     Read more
 
 
Johnson's search and rescue role may change
Tiffany De Masters
The Spectrum
Originally published February 12, 2011

ST. GEORGE - County officials say litigation against a St. George entrepreneur and Washington County Search and Rescue team member will not affect his ability to participate in missions.  However, he might have to take a different role.  Local businessman Jeremy Johnson has, for years, volunteered his services as a helicopter pilot to assist the team perform various missions, from searching for lost hikers to surveying flood damage.  However, a U.S. District Court judge granted a preliminary injunction Thursday intended to continue a freeze on the assets belonging to Johnson and 61 corporations following a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging illegal business practices.  Among those assets are his various aircraft.  A federal judge initially froze Johnson's assets by approving a motion for a temporary restraining order on Jan. 13 filed by the FTC.  Johnson's attorney, Michael Shaw, said Thursday's hearing was to give Johnson the opportunity to tell his side of the story.  The FTC alleges consumers lost $275 million while Johnson and the other defendants profited through iWorks and related Internet companies "by luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships that they never signed up for."  Also, according to court documents, Johnson admits to having a "gambling addiction."  "He's an enthusiast of the game of poker, he enjoys it," Shaw said.  According to one court document, Johnson gambled at casinos in Nevada and played online poker, losing $2.8 million since 2006.  Johnson's admission to a "gambling addiction" was a factor into why his assets are still frozen, FTC attorney Collot Guerard said.  Guerard said the judge said Thursday that it was important to preserve assets.  "The judge was concerned that Johnson might dissipate his assets - that could be through any avenue," she said.     Read more
 
 
Movie Interview: Tyler Measom, co-director of 'Sons of Perdition'
By Ryan Michael Painter
In Utah This Week
Originally published February 15, 2011

Filmmakers Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten have given five years of their lives to "Sons of Perdition," a documentary that looks at the struggles three polygamist teens face when they are forced to leave their families and community.  Having grown up in Salt Lake City, Measom explains that the plight of these kids wasn't a secret, but he and Merten felt like the news outlets were only covering it in the simplest of terms.  Other directors, such as Davis Guggenheim ("Waiting for 'Superman") had tried to make documentaries on exiled polygamist teens, but couldn't get access because the kids didn't trust them.  Measom and Merten believed that they brought something different to the table that would help them to gain the trust of the teens.  "These kids are told that they are going to hell. That's a pretty heavy weight to put on a 15- or 16-year-old. And they believe it. Both Jennilyn and I had both been raised in the Mormon Church and consequently we'd left the Mormon Church. So we knew what it was like to leave a community and disappoint family and face that fear of hell. We knew that we could tell that story," Measom says.  To give an idea of exactly how naοve and uneducated these polygamist escapees were, Measom talks about interviewing one of Warren Jeffs' wives who was convinced that America was the entire world and that it was flat.  This 24-year-old woman was then shown a globe and, for the first time, suddenly everything she had ever been taught had to be questioned.  "These kids have no choices. None. They are told what to wear, where they are going to work, what they can and can't do and whom they are going to marry. Then one day they are faced with more choices than any of us have, especially when you have no parents or someone to watch you, and they kind of drown in it a little bit," Measom says.     Read more
 
 
REVIEW: Sons of Perdition
By CitizenBot
Big Shiny Robot!
Originally published Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Full disclosure: Our own Swankmotron, Clang-Boom-Steam, and Jerkbot have been involved in the production and distribution of this film. However, I've not been involved in any of that and saw the film a few weeks ago to review in the Austin Post prior to the showing of Sons of Perdition at the Austin Film Festival.

However, sometimes conflicts of interest have rewards associated with them, like the ability to send a few of you lucky readers to see this movie for free at a special screening featuring a Q&A with the filmmakers! See Big Movie Mouth Off's Facebook page for details. And now, the review:

Most of us have heard the stories about the former FBI's Most Wanted, the "Prophet" Warren Jeffs, the tales of abuse and underage marriage, stemming from their compounds in Texas,Utah, and Arizona. Jeffs, leader of a fundamentalist splinter group of the LDS church (or FLDS), faces trial later this summer after extradition to Texas and numerous legal delays, but behind the condemnation of the horrible, horrible things he has perpetrated on members of his cult, there are those who have escaped the FLDS home base of Colorado City, AZ and how they are forced to live their lives.

Friday, Feb. 18 at 7:00 at the Tower Theatre, our friends at Big Movie Mouth Off present "Sons of Perdition," a heartbreaking documentary following several young men and women who have escaped "The Crick" and are trying to live normal lives. Physically, emotionally, and in the case of the girls sexually abused, sheltered from the outside world, controlled by their "Prophet" and his patriarchal society, these children have been intellectually and emotionally infantalized, unable to deal with the real world that they have either escaped or run away to.     Read more
 
 
Utah filmmakers shine documentary spotlight on polygamy problems
By Cody Clark
Daily Herald - Provo, Utah
Originally published Thursday, February 17, 2011

What is it like, at age 15 or 16, to defy the community that raised you and start your life over in a dramatically different world?  The new documentary "Sons of Perdition" (www.sonsofperditionthemovie.com) attempts to answer that question by telling the story of teenage boys who leave or are expelled from polygamous communities in the Beehive State, but don't know how to integrate themselves into mainstream society.  The film opens Friday in Salt Lake City and will begin a limited engagement at Provo's Carmike Wynnsong theater on Feb. 25.  Co-directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten decided to make "Sons" after sensing that there was a deeper story behind occasional news reports about Utah teens who had fled from or been kicked out of Utah polygamist clans.  Measom said that such kids are often deeply conflicted, both frightened of their parents and lonely without them, relieved to have escaped, but confused about their new surroundings and fearful for loved ones left behind.  There's also the small matter hinted at by the film's title -- many polygamist sects consider leaving to be the ultimate betrayal, with the ultimate cost.  "Being told that you're going to Hell is a tough thing for a 15- or 16-year-old," Measom said.  The film focuses on three teenage boys, and Measom said that he and Merten filmed them for more than two years after gradually winning their trust.  The kids wanted nothing to do with the filmmakers at first, but Measom said that he wouldn't give up on them.  "They lived in my house, we bailed them out of jail, we bought them meals," he said.  "We talked to them. We listened to them."     Read more
 
 
'Perdition' follows the search for salvation
By Doug Wright
KSL Radio
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011

"SONS OF PERDITION" — Directed by Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten; R (language and drug use); Tower Theater

The title "Sons of Perdition" appears with a voice saying, "Oh, young people, eternity is within your reach if you will just live faithfully so the Prophet can place you properly in marriage. I want you to believe these stories — there are no monogamists in heaven."  The voice is FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, setting the stage for the story of three boys who leave — or are expelled — from the polygamist community of Colorado City, known by the locals as "the Crick."  Directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Mertin document the two-year odyssey of Sam, Bruce and Joe as they leave their homes, families and religion to enter a loosely connected underground network of exiled kids centered in St. George.  Assured by Jeffs that they are now condemned to hell in the afterlife, the boys have newfound freedoms, temptations, liabilities of age and limited options — all mixed with loneliness and anger.  They find themselves dealing with a taste of hell on earth.  Bruce, 15, talks at length about "Warren" breaking up his family.  Now, he wants to move on but can't attend school without documentation and parental approval.  Joe talks constantly about the physical abuse at the hands of his father.  He's committed to saving his mom and sisters from "The Crick."  The filmmakers document the various attempts — some so pathetic it breaks your heart, especially when derailed by intimidation, threats and religious harangues.  Sam, who has training in carpentry, tries his hand at framing, but other opportunities are limited.  He can't even join the Army because of a restraining order from dear old Dad.  We find the boys gravitating to the home of Jeremy Johnson — a wealthy software designer — who, along with his wife, has tried to provide a sanctuary for exiled kids.  But even big-hearted Jeremy hits his limit when he becomes alarmed by behavior and randomly conducts a drug test.  Each boy tests positive. While still willing to help, their protector indicates it's time to move on.     Read more
 
 
Local film highlights FLDS 'lost boys'
By Devin Richey
Arts
The Daily Utah Chronicle - University of Utah
Originally published Friday, February 18, 2011

Born into a society that de-emphasizes education, individuality and monogamous relationships, groups of refugee apostates sometimes flee the oppressive, dictatorial world of the modern Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The people in these groups, known as the Sons of Perdition, are rarely given coverage of their hardships out of local news circuits.  Local filmmakers Tyler Measom and U graduate Jennilyn Merten decided to document the lives of several people following their liberation from the sect in the new feature documentary, "Sons of Perdition."  The group is separate from the exiled "lost boys" who were banished from "the Crick" — the name for the FLDS communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz. — for breaking the community's strict rules regarding dating and popular culture or because of a shortage of marriageable women.  They enter the outside world with no understanding of outside society and its culture.  Merten asks a boy at one point if he has ever read a comic book, to which he replies, "What's that?"  "There is no competition allowed in the Crick, either," Merten said.  "The kids can play basketball, but they aren't allowed to keep score. The leaders consider competition to be a tool of the devil."  Under the leadership of Warren Jeffs, the proclaimed prophet of the FLDS and a captured fugitive from the FBI's Most Wanted list, male members of the church were assigned marriage partners that could be as young as 12 to 14 years old, even if the polygamous husband was pushing 60 years old.  As revealed in the documentary, these girls are given no form of sexual education prior to their vows and their marriages are consummated on beds located within the compound's temple.     Read more
 
 
Film documents lives of 3 'Lost Boys'
By Trent Toone
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Feb. 18, 2011

"The Lost Boys" have become "Sons of Perdition."  Over the past decade many stories have been written about the more than 400 teenage boys wandering around southern Utah after they were forced from fundamentalist polygamist homes in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.  Co-directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten have produced "Sons of Perdition," a documentary that looks at the lives of three exiled FLDS teenagers named Sam, Bruce and Joe.  "(This film) is not about religion," Measom said.  "It's about boys who are trying to make it in a world they know little about. Above and beyond everything else, these kids just miss their moms, dads, brothers and sisters, and they can't see them."  "Sons of Perdition," which is rated R for language and drug use, has already gained notoriety at dozens of festivals and movie-related events.  The film was also selected by the Oprah Winfrey Network for its new documentary club, and will be shown on television later this year.  It opens Feb. 18 at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City.  In the FLDS culture, young people only attend school through eighth grade.  Most books and recreational activities are restricted.  Young men work to make money for the church and young women become wives of prominent men in the community.  For young men, leaving home means being condemned to hell and being disowned by family.  "Some are kicked out, others are dropped off somewhere, handed $10 and told they are on their own," Meason said.  "The majority leave on their own accord, knowing they have no future in the community. They know they are going to be a pawn to work and bring in money for Warren Jeffs. We knew there was a deeper story."  Sam fell out of favor with FLDS leadership for speaking with a girl.  After watching Jeffs exile many male relatives and friends, he decided to leave at age 17.  Bruce left Colorado City at age 15 after Jeffs exiled Bruce's father and broke up his family.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy documentary captures kids slipping through the cracks
By Cody Clark
Movie Review
Daily Herald - Provo, Utah
Originally published Thursday, February 24, 2011

The simple act of having one's hair cut or colored is fraught with meaning in "Sons of Perdition," an astonishing documentary about kids who attempt something that quietly, subtly feels almost science-fictional, like crossing over to a parallel universe.  The stars of the film are teenagers who run away from their homes in the Hildale/Colorado City polygamous enclave on the Utah/Arizona border and struggle to forge a new life in nearby St. George, Utah.  Especially for the girls — but also for the boys — who blast across the boundary between dimensions, changing their hair is like signing the Declaration of Independence or crossing the Rubicon, a symbolic gesture of no return.  It's also one of the only decisions or actions that seems to be easily within the grasp of the largely self-chosen exiles, who have grown up actively barred from gaining normal levels of socialization and education.  "Sons of Perdition" is an understated, largely observational documentary.  It damns polygamy, and particularly excoriates Hildale/Colorado City overlord Warren Jeffs, but more by sifting through the collateral damage of Jeffs's tyranny, powerfully observed in the lives of the film's subjects, than by lining up talking heads or pie charts.  Jeffs, the imprisoned former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is heard at several key points in sermonizing soundbites drawn out of prophetic counsel given to his followers, and is actually harder on himself (albeit unintentionally) than almost anyone else in the film.     Read more
 
 
'Sons of Perdition,' 3 stars
By Bill Goodykoontz
Things to Do / Movies
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Feb. 24, 2011

"Sons of Perdition" goes only partway toward shining a light on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormon offshoot sect that for a time was led by the notorious Warren Jeffs.  Which is a shame, because what's here is compelling, if occasionally hard to follow.  Telling its story through younger members of the church as they attempt to break away and leave Colorado City (they call it "the Crick") in far-northwestern Arizona, the documentary relies heavily on assumed knowledge about Jeffs, the FLDS leader whose Utah conviction on two counts of being an accomplice to rape were overturned in 2010.  The film begins and ends with recorded speeches by Jeffs (he awaits trial in Arizona), espousing the benefits - the requirements, for his followers - of polygamy.  We see the effects on the sheltered, naive kids let loose in nearby St. George, Utah; despite their hatred of Jeffs, they clearly have a hard time cutting ties with the FLDS community completely.  Small wonder: With large families at the center of their lives, they miss their parents and siblings.  Yet they had felt trapped and manipulated, and wanted out.  They know little of the outside world, to the extent that Joe Broadbent, one of the boys who escapes, briefly confuses Bill Clinton with Adolf Hitler.  His sister Suzanne can't name the capital of the U.S.  It's hard not to be reminded of reality TV, particularly in the way that directors Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten shoot their footage, such as scenes in which a software millionaire allows those who have left the FDLS to live in his home.  The setting, as well as the direction, is almost distractingly reminiscent of such shows as "The Surreal Life."  It's surreal, too.  Finally away from the constraints of their former lives, the young people, perhaps predictably, go too far with their newfound freedoms.  But the Crick is never far from their minds; one drinking binge leads to a young woman, who left her family and four (!) children behind, lying on the floor screaming and crying.  Whenever she drinks, it's explained, memories of her former life come flooding back.     Read more
 
 
The Vent
The Spectrum
Originally published February 26, 2011

In a recent Spectrum article about a local man and his company, Sheriff Pulsipher characterized the charges against the man as a "civil matter."  Pulsipher is the top law enforcement official in the county and oversees hundreds of inmates at Purgatory.  I am sure the combined dollar value of all the crimes in that prison do not come anywhere near the charges of fraud against the suspect.  The man deserves his day in court, but it is offensive that Mr. Pulsipher would so casually dismiss such serious charges.
 
 
Alum works on film about polygamist community exiles
By Kortney Tenaglia
The State Press - Arizona State University - Tempe, AZ
Originally published March 2, 2011

The story of Warren Jeffs and his infamous ring of polygamy has repeatedly stirred the emotions of Americans.  Now one film is telling the story of three people who had to start their lives over after being expelled from Jeffs' community.  ASU alumnus Jason Watt worked as an associate producer on the feature documentary, "Sons of Perdition," which focuses on the lives of the "lost boys" of polygamy — three boys who were exiled from Jeffs' polygamist community in Colorado City, Ariz.  The documentary debuted last April at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, and its far-reaching impact has hit the desert, now playing at Harkins Camelview 5 theater in Scottsdale.  The last showings are Thursday.  Watt said he wanted to work on the film because the subject matter piqued his interest.  "There was a curiosity I always had," said Watt.  "It was a story I grew up knowing about, being from Arizona."  Watt, who graduated from ASU in 2000 with a degree in English, currently works in New York City as a writer and is also involved in film production.  When he learned about a polygamy documentary being produced in Colorado City, he joined the project.  "He was very helpful throughout the process," producer and co-director of "Sons of Perdition" Tyler Meason said.  "He put us in contact with producers in New York City."  Meason, a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, experienced being raised in a strict religious environment, leaving that environment and then adjusting to a new life.  "We found out about the kids kicked out of Colorado City, and we knew it was more than not just having a place to live," Meason said.     Read more
 
 
Documentary follows teens exiled from polygamous sect
By KATE SHELLNUTT
Houston Chronicle
Originally published March 31, 2011

There's something about coming-of-age films, with their familiar sense of newfound independence balanced with a yearning for family connection, a desire to grow up but not too much, that American audiences love.  In many ways, this archetype is at the center of Sons of Perdition, an independent film showing in Houston for the first time next week.  But the teenage boys featured in this documentary have a darker, more painful background as exiles from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They're called the "lost boys."  Some fled on their own. But others had their coming-of-age moment thrust upon them by a prophet who forced them to leave their families and religious community to live completely separate from the polygamist compound where they grew up.  That prophet was Warren Jeffs, the now-imprisoned leader of the 10,000-member FLDS sect, which split from mainstream Mormonism more than 120 years ago to continue the disavowed practice of plural marriage.  Over his nearly decade-long reign as head of the FLDS church, he rid the Colorado City, Ariz. , settlement of hundreds of young men while older leaders continued to take young women as wives.  Jeffs is currently in a Texas prison, awaiting trial for sexual assault and bigamy.  "It's related to Jeffs. Sociologists would say it's an inevitable demographic shift that has to occur for that marriage pattern to continue," said Martha Bradley, an expert in Mormon history and dean at the University of Utah.  "It's really an extreme test of loyalty for Jeffs to order one of their followers to get rid of their teenage son."  The boys who leave are, in their families' minds and their own, "sons of perdition," destined for damnation for rejecting God's teachings.     Read more
 
 
Men named in poker indictment already tied to Las Vegas fraud case
By Steve Green
VegasInc - Las Vegas, Nevada
Originally published April 15, 2011

Two of the men arrested in today's national Internet poker crackdown are already tied to a massive fraud case being prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission in Las Vegas.  Las Vegas businessman Chad Elie, who was arrested today, had earlier sued St. George, Utah, businessman Jeremy Johnson, who authorities claim was the mastermind behind a fraudulent $275 million Internet billing scheme.  Johnson is the focus of the FTC lawsuit in Las Vegas.  Elie, who has a Las Vegas company called 21Debit, is accused in indictments today of, along with others, approaching John Campos, vice chairman of SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah., about processing Internet poker transactions.  SunFirst Bank is a creditor of Johnson's in the FTC case.  "While expressing 'trepidations,' Campos allegedly agreed to process gambling transactions in return for a $10 million investment in SunFirst by Elie and an associate, which would give them a more than 30 percent ownership stake in the bank. Campos also requested and received a $20,000 'bonus' for his assistance," said a statement today from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.  Campos was among those arrested and indicted today.  In his lawsuit against Johnson, Elie claimed he was due $20 million from Johnson and codefendants after Johnson told him he had a trusted relationship with SunFirst and that, in exchange for an investment, Elie could begin processing payments for his "online merchants" through SunFirst.  That lawsuit was dropped for undisclosed reasons last month.  The bank, in the meantime, had been hit with an enforcement order from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. related to its processing of transactions for Johnson.  Johnson was not named in today's criminal indictments.     Read more
 
 
Top 10 most popular nonfiction books, spring 2011
By Judith Stokes
RIC News and Events
Rhode Island College - Providence, Rhode Island
Originally published May 2, 2011

Continuing a series that began in 2008, RIC's Judith Stokes reviews selected books from Adams Library's Browsing Collection. In April, she reviewed fiction books in the Adams Library's Browsing Collection that have been borrowed most frequently, as of Spring 2011. This month, she'll check out the top 10 nonfiction books. In June, Stokes will review 10 of her favorites.

We hope you will enjoy reading these informative descriptions, and perhaps some of these titles will find their way onto your personal reading list.


1. "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn is a real page turner despite its heavy topic. Kristoff and WuDunn tell true stories of Asian and African women who have survived, and even thrived, after beatings, rape, and forced prostitution, and of villages where determined women have led the way to better health care, nutrition, and education for their children. The international aid community has begun to discover that the best way to fight poverty and extremism in third-world countries is to educate and empower women and girls, on their own terms, whether that means building schools or just buying uniforms for girls who cannot afford them, building and staffing hospitals or making small loans to female entrepreneurs who will use the profits of their businesses to feed their families, educate their daughters, and save for the future – goals their husbands tend to neglect. Kristoff and WuDunn bring the stories and the solutions to life and tell us how we actually can help change the world.

2. "Methland: the Death and Life of an American Small Town" by Nick Reding has moved up from number 10 on our popular nonfiction book list last year. Reding looks back on four years in the Midwest, particularly in Olwein, Idaho, where he witnessed the so-called methamphetamine "epidemic." Looking beyond the often specious statistics that fuel media reports, Reding got to know addicts and their families, and became friends with the doctor, county prosecutor, social worker, and mayor of Olwein, who struggled to take back their town. The roles of the drug trafficking organizations, the Big Pharma lobbyists, the meat-packing industry and the illegal immigrants it recruited are all there, along with the history of the drug, itself, "once heralded as the drug that would end the need for all others," and the people it hurts.
    Read more
 
 
Premiere dates announced of OWN Network Documentary Club films
Entertainment
All Headline News - Los Angeles, California
Originally published May 10, 2011

The Oprah Winfrey Network has released the air dates of the three newest films to be added to the OWN Documentary Club.  The three films, "Sons of Perdition," "Serving Life" and "Life 2.0," will be broadcast this summer following the release of the first film in the series, "Becoming Chaz," airs Tuesday.  "Sons of Perdition" follows three teenage boys as they escape from the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints compound, the oldest polygamy compound in the United States.  Without resources or knowledge of life outside their compound, they struggle to adapt to life in mainstream America while having only the support of fellow castaways to provide structure in this unfamiliar territory.  The documentary has been seen at more than 30 film festivals, with Filmmaker magazine calling it "an emotional rollercoaster" and the Huffington Post referring to it as "a penetrating, insightful and riveting documentary."  Produced by Left Turn Films in association with Motto Pictures and Cactus Three and directed by Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Mertern, the film is an emotional account of self-discovery and the struggle of finding oneself in everyday America.  In the newest OWN original documentary, Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker takes a look at the underbelly of humanity to see if redemption actually exists.  "Serving Life" documents the inmates of Angola, Louisiana's maximum security prison, and their unlikely hospice program that cares for dying inmates.  In a prison where 85 percent of inmates never see the outside world again, rapist, murderers and kidnappers come together to care for their fellow man, despite having committed terrible crimes against others.     Read more
 
 
JUUF to host last film in Conscientious Projector Series Monday
Juneau Empire - Juneau, Alaska
Originally published May 14, 2011

At 7 p.m. Monday at the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater, the Juneau Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (JUUF) will host a special showing of "Sons of Perdition."  The film, a full length documentary, follows three teenage boys after they escape from the powerful Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints polygamist sect and must fend for themselves as they integrate into a society they grew up not knowing.  With unprecedented access, "Sons of Perdition" takes audiences on a three-year journey into the lives of these remarkable teens, providing the inside analysis to make this intimate portrait a big story — a timely, critical look at faith, family and religious exile in mainstream America.  "Sons of Perdition" was recently acquired by the Oprah Winfrey Network, to be shown as part of Oprah's Documentary Club.  After the film concludes, Rev. Sarah Schurr of JUUF will facilitate a discussion with director Tyler Measom, who will be available by Skype to talk to audience members about the making of the film.  "Sons of Perdition," like all films shown as part of the Conscientious Projector series, is free to the public, though donations will be accepted and put toward offering Conscientious Projector films on other topics in future months.
 
 
Sons of Perdition (In Exile Films, R)
Another explains that at the Crick, if a man fell out of favor with Jeffs, his wives and children could be taken away from him and given to another man.
Written by Sarah Boslaugh
Play by Play
PLAYBACK:stl - St. Louis, Missouri
Originally Thursday, 19 May 2011

Polygamy is illegal everywhere in the United States, but it's clear that in some parts of the country it is not only practiced but to some degree tolerated. The big question for me has never been how do they get away with it—laws against murder neither prevented lynching nor instilled a fear of prosecution into those committing this crime—but how polygamy is mathematically possible, particularly in a closed community. Boys and girls are born in approximately equal numbers, kidnapping draws too much attention, and as far as we know adult women haven't exactly been lining up for the chance to enter into a polygamous marriage. So, if every adult man is to have multiple wives, where do the surplus women come from?

One answer is provided in Sons of Perdition, a powerful documentary directed by Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten. As young men in the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) community in Colorado City, Arizona come of age many of them are forced out (for offenses as trivial as listening to music or talking to a girl) or allowed to run away, while the girls are closely guarded and married off at young ages. You may have heard of the Colorado City community because until recently it was led by Warren Jeffs, who in 2007 was convicted of accomplice rape of a 14-year-old girl. [Obligatory disclaimer: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church or Mormon church) prohibits polygamy and members of the FLDS are not Mormons.]     Read more
 
 
'Sons of Perdition' tells polygamy tale from boys' perspective
BY JOE WILLIAMS
Post-Dispatch Film Critic
Entertainment / Movies / Reviews
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - St. Louis, Missouri
Originally published Friday, May 20, 2011

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a spin-off of the Mormon church.  It has an estimated 10,000 adherents in North America.  Yet in the documentary "Sons of Perdition," the FLDS seems as foreign as the Taliban.  That's because the secretive sect still practices polygamy, which the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints disavowed more than a century ago, and it follows a "prophet" who has been indicted on sexual-misconduct and child-abuse charges.  The children in "Sons of Perdition" have to grow up fast when they leave the large FLDS compound in Colorado City, Ariz.  Rebellious teen boys are essentially expelled, to keep the gender ratio favorable to the polygamist men.  When we meet young Joe, Bruce and Sam, they're squatting in a hip-hop Neverland with no adult supervision as they try to assimilate into a secular culture they barely understand and poorly imitate.  (Sideways baseball caps have never seemed so sad.)  Filmmakers Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten follow the teens for three years, from the carpentry school in which they excel to the high school in which the "hotties" are an alien species.  Eventually, the boys plot to free their mothers and sisters from prophet Warren Jeffs and his male followers, who are rewarded for their loyalty with multiple mates (some as young as 13 years old).     Read more
 
 
Sons of Perdition
Kent Tentschert
Reelworld
Webster-Kirkwood Times - Webster Groves, Missouri
Originally published May 20, 2011

Genre: Documentary
Rating: R for language and some teen drug use
Grade: C+
Reviewer: Kent Tentschert

Kent's Take:

When Warren Jeffs took control of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints known as FLDS (a fundamentalist Mormon sect), he began preparing his flock for the end of the world.  Jeffs banned all TV, movies, music, dancing, riding bicycles, fraternizing with the opposite sex.  They don't even go to church anymore.  Every marriage is arranged, and polygamy (taking multiple wives) is practiced.  Jeffs also began exiling young men who lacked the commitment to this rigid religious structure.  "Sons of Perdition" is the story of these castoffs, young men who have shunned Jeffs' cult-like practices and left the community, or those who have been excommunicated for infractions.  These boys, between ages 15 and 18, find themselves homeless, uneducated (some cannot read), and shunned to a society for which they are ill-prepared.  Many soon turn to drugs and alcohol as a remedy for their loneliness and fear.  This raw documentary follows three boys as they wrestle to make sense of a world in which they don't belong, a world that they have been taught is full of evil and hate, a world they now must find a place within.     Read more
 
 
Feds move to sell assets of Utah business, gambling figure
By Steve Green
Vegas Inc - Henderson, Nevada
Originally published Friday 27 May 2011

This may be the last Memorial Day weekend that Utah businessman and Las Vegas gambling figure Jeremy Johnson and his family enjoy one of their million-dollar houseboats on Lake Powell.  That's because a receiver in a massive fraud lawsuit in Las Vegas wants to take the boats away.  Johnson, of St. George, Utah, and scores of associated companies and individuals were sued by the Federal Trade Commission in Las Vegas last year in what the FTC called a nationwide scheme that operated online for years and that cost consumers $275 million.  The FTC claims Johnson and nine associates operated a "far-reaching Internet enterprise" including I Works Inc. and 60 more companies that "deceptively enrolled unwitting consumers into memberships for products or services and then repeatedly charged their credit cards or debited their bank accounts without consumers' knowledge or authorization."  Johnson and his codefendants have denied defrauding anyone, but a federal judge in Las Vegas nevertheless appointed a receiver to take control of the assets of Johnson.  The receiver, Robb Evans, reported to the court in February that his initial investigation found I Works, which was incorporated in 2000, had generated revenue of $332.5 million through January of this year – and a profit of $50.4 million for Johnson and his affiliates.  Attorneys for Johnson this month asked the federal court to order the release of some of the funds held by the receiver to cover Johnson's living expenses and legal costs.  An injunction freezing the assets of Johnson and his company "has placed a strangle hold on Jeremy Johnson and the corporate defendants' ability to retain competent counsel to defend this action and has made it impossible for Johnson to meet even the most basic living expenses such as utilities and housing," his attorneys wrote in their filing.  Johnson's attorneys said the FTC has provided evidence of not more than $1,200 of actual damages sustained by consumers.     Read more
 
 
TV: 'Sons of Perdition,' taking flight from a polygamist compound
By Hank Stuever
Critic
The Washington Post
Originally published June 1, 2011

What awaits the wide-eyed teenage boys who escape — or are spurned from — Warren Jeffs's polygamist settlement in Colorado City, Ariz., except for the previously forbidden trappings of youth?  They go right to baggy jeans, tattoos, cheap beer, dyeing their hair a bright canary yellow and gelling it up into fauxhawks.  It's as if they busted out of the 19th century only to land smack in the middle of a Warped Tour haze of temptation and bad taste.  As seen in the fascinating and sad documentary "Sons of Perdition," which will air Thursday night on OWN, three young men run away from the strict and abusive lifestyle in "the Crick" (the communal nickname for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound) and quickly discover how ill-equipped they are to survive.  In the real world — or in a world of Western suburbia — they must rely on a network of slightly older exiles who fled the compound and moved to St. George, a town across the Utah state line.  Without Social Security numbers, the boys sleep on floors and in shelters; their best hope is to sometimes find temporary work in construction and try to earn their GEDs.  There is patchwork help from social service programs, such as Job Corps, but high school is foreign territory that quickly exposes not only their lack of social skills but also the vast gaps in the religious-centric dogma that formed early education in the Crick. One of the subjects of "Sons of Perdition" can draw mutant monsters but has never heard of or seen a comic book.  One young woman, who also escaped the Crick, is surprised to learn Washington is the nation's capital.  Another confuses Bill Clinton with Adolf Hitler.     Read more
 
 
 
 
Oprah's Network Goes to the Movies
By GINIA BELLAFANTE
Critic's Notebook
The New York Times
Originally published June 1, 2011

Fifteen years ago Oprah Winfrey introduced a book club to her talk-show viewers and thus began providing the publishing industry with its own version of an entitlement program.  As a subsidizer of literacy, she brought Tolstoy and Faulkner to those not necessarily in possession of the Penguin Classics while primarily shepherding forgettable middlebrow women's fiction onto the shelves of those who might otherwise have been satisfied with People magazine.  Three of her 10 selections in 1997 were children's books by Bill Cosby, which should in itself sustain the question of her value as a national educator.  Her resources such as they are, Ms. Winfrey now has a network, OWN, and with it she is bringing her considerable imprimatur to the world of documentary film.  Each month, under the rubric of a documentary club, OWN broadcasts a feature-length effort that carries the editorial judgment of Oprah Inc.  Broadly speaking, something has come to say Oprah if it chronicles the spirit's triumph over extreme adversity; if it helps, heals, inspires, ennobles, persuades, teaches, uplifts.  The films appear to have been chosen according to more exacting, less hokey criteria.  With a debut last month, the series continues this summer with three excellent entries: "The Sons of Perdition," to be shown Thursday, and "Serving Life" and "Life 2.0" later on.     Read more
 
 
'Sons of Perdition': real story of FLDS exile
Linda Stasi
TV Critic
New York Post
Originally published June 1, 2011

"Sons of Perdition" Tonight at 9 on OWN  Thrown into the desert to live alone with out identification at 14 if you're a boy.  Married off at 13 to an old man if you're a girl.  Denied education beyond religion and math no matter what your gender.  Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan? A rerun of "Big Love"?  No -- these are the possible fates of the children in Colorado City, Utah, home of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints compound.  And it's all fearlessly detailed in "Sons of Perdition," the excellent, must-see second documentary to air on "Oprah's OWN Documentary Club" tonight.  The film follows three of the more than 1,000 "Lost Boys" who have either been kicked out or escaped from Warren Jeffs' monstrous FLDS compound, despite believing that being exiled means being forever condemned to hell.  And while "Perdition" plays like an episode of "Big Love" or "Sister Wives" minus the good times, it's all real right now.  The kids documented -- Sam, Bruce and Joe -- try to make it in the big, scary, real world without money, ID, family, home or any possessions.  They are among the bravest children you will ever see.  How did they end up like this?  Fifteen-year-old Bruce, for example, tells how Jeffs assigned his father's wives, kids and home to another man.  The man then married the wives and the daughters!     Read more
 
 
Boys struggle after leaving their polygamous families
Reported by: Kimberly Houk
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast June 2, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - They are known as the Sons of Perdition.  They are the faces behind a new documentary airing tonight on the Oprah Winfrey Network.  The film follows several boys as they escape Colorado City, leaving behind their polygamous families.  You could call these kids the second generation of the "Lost Boys".  A decade ago, hundreds of boys were thrown out of the community to pave the way for the older men to marry a higher number of younger girls.  These boys are tossed out of a polygamous community, unprepared to survive in the real world.  On the remote border of Utah and Arizona, the prophet Warren Jeffs, has banished hundreds of boys from their strict polygamous sect.  This documentary film highlights the lives of 3 boys leaving their families behind as they say good-bye to a life of polygamy.  "I'm Joseph Broadbent. I have two moms, 21 siblings, and I ran away from Colorado City."  Joseph is safe today.  He's living and working in Salt Lake City.  At 22 years old, he only has a 5th grade education.  "We don't have the education, and we don't have the social skills, and it's hard to live out here," said Broadbent.  "One of the boys confuses Clinton and Hitler.  They don't know who the President of the U.S. is.  They don't know anything, and that's how Warren Jeffs kept them down.  He kept them undereducated, and in fear of the rest of the world," said Tyler Measom, the filmmaker.     Read more
 
 
 
BREAKING NEWS: Local entrepreneur and search and rescue pilot arrested by IRS special agents in Phoenix
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published June 11, 2011

ST. GEORGE – One-time millionaire, sometimes-philanthropist, alleged internet scam artist and St. George resident Jeremy Johnson was arrested Saturday afternoon in Phoenix on a mail fraud charge.  U.S. Internal Revenue Service agents arrested Johnson at an airport in Phoenix where he was on his way to Costa Rica, where he owns a home, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.  The longtime St. George resident, who was charged earlier this year by the Federal Trade Commission with defrauding customers out of $270 million, was charged Saturday with one count of mail fraud for allegedly selling CDs through the mail on how to apply for government grants to pay for personal expenses.  Johnson is well-known in the local community for assisting in local search and rescue operations with his helicopters, but questions about his business practices arose earlier this year with the charges from the FTC.  The agency froze Johnson's and his company iWorks' assets in February, alleging that Johnson and nine other defendants made millions through iWorks and related umbrella companies, "luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships they never signed up for."     Read more
 
 
Feds arrest St. George business man, philanthropist for mail fraud
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, June 11, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — His shaggy red hair sticking out in all directions after a night's sleep, Jeremy Johnson tossed a wad of cash on the end of his inflatable mattress in a large tent on the Dominican Republic-Haiti border.  The cash — he probably had no idea how much — would cover gas for three helicopters and other expenses for the day's relief mission in earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince in January 2010.  But before the team, many of whom worked for one of Johnson's lucrative Internet enterprises, headed out to do some good, the boss was in the mood for a contest.  And he was willing to throw some bills down to make it happen.  Money was never an object for Johnson, until the Federal Trade Commission came down on him and his company IWorks for allegedly luring consumers into bogus government grant and money-making schemes that netted $275 million.  And now the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah wants the 35-year-old St. George man.  IRS agents arrested Johnson on Saturday afternoon at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as he changed planes en route to Costa Rica.  Johnson moved his wife and two children to the Central American country earlier this year.  Federal prosecutors charged him with one count of mail fraud, a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  Johnson is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Phoenix on Monday.  The criminal charge stems from Johnson allegedly using the U.S. mail to further his fraudulent business.  According to the felony complaint, he used false advertising, false testimonials and phony reviews to market IWorks and dozens of shell companies.     Read more
 
 
Las Vegas high-roller, fraud lawsuit figure arrested
By Steve Green
Vegas Inc. - Henderson, Nevada
Originally published Sunday 12 June 2011

A Utah man tied to Las Vegas casinos, Internet poker companies and a big Las Vegas fraud case was arrested Saturday on a mail fraud charge.  The U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City announced the arrest of Jeremy D. Johnson of St. George, Utah, by IRS agents.  A spokeswoman said Johnson was arrested at a Phoenix airport while en route to Costa Rica, where the government believes Johnson has business interests.  Johnson for years was known in Utah as a philanthropist who used his fleet of aircraft for rescue and humanitarian missions.  But last year he and his companies were sued by the Federal Trade Commission in Las Vegas in what the FTC called a nationwide $289 million Internet scam (up from $275 million alleged earlier) in which consumers were deceptively enrolled in programs to obtain government grants and for other services.  As the FTC case in Las Vegas developed, it was revealed Johnson was a high-roller at Wynn Las Vegas who lost $1.35 million there between 2006 and early 2011.  He also gambled at MGM Resorts International properties including the MGM Grand, Luxor and Bellagio.  It was also revealed Johnson lost another $1.536 million playing on the Full Tilt Poker website between April and October 2010 and that he did business with Internet poker companies.  Johnson also had business ties with Las Vegas businessman Chad Elie, who was indicted in April's federal Internet poker crackdown; and Johnson did business with SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah, whose part owner and vice chairman, John Campos, was indicted in the same poker crackdown.  Johnson's arrest Saturday came after a U.S. magistrate judge in Utah signed a criminal mail fraud complaint presented by Jamie Hipwell, an IRS criminal investigator assigned to the IRS's Salt Lake City post for the Las Vegas Field Office.     Read more
 
 
Authorities arrest local businessman Johnson
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published June 12, 2011

ST. GEORGE - One-time millionaire, sometimes philanthropist, alleged internet scam artist and St. George resident Jeremy Johnson was arrested Saturday afternoon in Phoenix on a mail fraud charge.  U.S. Internal Revenue Service agents arrested Johnson at an airport in Phoenix where he was on his way to Costa Rica, where he owns a home, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.  The longtime St. George resident, who was charged earlier this year by the Federal Trade Commission with defrauding customers out of $270 million, was charged Saturday with one count of mail fraud for allegedly selling CDs through the mail on how to apply for government grants to pay for personal expenses.  Johnson is well known in the local community for assisting in local search and rescue operations with his helicopters, but questions about his business practices arose earlier this year with the charges from the FTC.  The agency froze Johnson's and his company iWorks' assets in February, alleging that Johnson and nine other defendants made millions through iWorks and related umbrella companies, "luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships they never signed up for."     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson to appear in court today
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published June 13, 2011

ST. GEORGE – St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson is scheduled to appear in court today facing charges that he defrauded thousands of customers by illegally selling products through the mail.  U.S. Internal Revenue Service agents arrested Johnson at an airport in Phoenix on Saturday.  He was on his way to Costa Rica, where he owns a home, according to a release U.S. Attorney's Office.  The longtime St. George resident, who was charged earlier this year by the Federal Trade Commission with defrauding customers out of $270 million over the internet, was charged Saturday with one count of mail fraud for allegedly selling CDs through the mail on how to apply for government grants to pay for personal expenses.  The charge comes with a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.  Johnson is well-known in the local community for assisting in local search and rescue operations, but questions about his business practices arose earlier this year with the charges from the FTC.  The agency froze Johnson's and his company iWorks' assets in February, alleging that Johnson and nine other defendants made millions through iWorks and related umbrella companies, "luring consumers into 'trial' memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships they never signed up for."     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson to appear in court Wednesday
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published June 14, 2011

ST. GEORGE - A former St. George businessman suspected of scamming millions of dollars from people over the Internet is scheduled to face a U.S. District Court justice Wednesday in Phoenix.  U.S. Internal Revenue Service agents arrested Jeremy Johnson, 35, Saturday, and the longtime St. George resident now faces a mail fraud charge related to the online businesses the government contends he used to bilk customers out of $289 million by making false claims and charging fees without consent.  The new charges accuse Johnson of sending "hundreds of thousands of consumers" computer software through the mail that made false claims about helping them obtain government grants to pay for personal expenses.  He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.  Johnson is scheduled for a detention hearing at 2 p.m. Wednesday, said Melodie Rydalch, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah.  Johnson was well known in Utah for his philanthropic practices, such as using his fortune to buy helicopters and fly search-and-rescue missions.  Last year he led a helicopter mission to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, delivering food, supplies, medical help and other services, reportedly spending more than $1 million in the humanitarian effort.  Questions about his business practices arose in December when the Federal Trade Commission hit Johnson with a civil case, suing him and his online business, iWorks, along with nine other defendants associated with iWorks and a network of "shell" companies.     Read more
 
 
Utah businessman detained by federal judge
The Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published June 16, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A St. George businessman arrested in Phoenix on a federal mail fraud charge has been detained by a federal judge and will be returned to Utah.  Defense attorney Travis Marker says Jeremy David Johnson waived his extradition to Utah during a detention hearing in Phoenix's U.S. District Court on Wednesday.  Marker says a second detention hearing will be held once the 35-year-old is returned to Utah.  Also Wednesday, Johnson was indicted by a federal grand jury on a single count of mail fraud.  The indictment mirrors a criminal complaint filed last week in Salt Lake City's federal court.  Prosecutors allege Johnson's company, iWorks, sent software to consumers for a supposedly risk-free trial, but then billed them online for products they didn't order.  Marker says Johnson denies the charges.
 
 
Jeremy Johnson back in custody
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published June 16, 2011

ST. GEORGE - A St. George businessman accused of scamming thousands of people selling products online will remain in jail while prosecutors develop their cases against him, a grand jury ruled Wednesday.  U.S. Internal Revenue Service agents arrested Jeremy Johnson, 35, over the weekend for a mail fraud charge related to the online businesses he allegedly used to dupe customers out of $289 million.  Federal prosecutors filed an indictment against Johnson on Wednesday in Phoenix, where he was arrested, and Johnson will be transported back to Salt Lake City.  Once Johnson is back in Utah, prosecutors will schedule his next court appearance, said Melodie Rydalch, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah.  Calls to Johnson's St. George attorney were not returned before deadline on Wednesday.  The new charges accuse Johnson of sending "hundreds of thousands of consumers" computer software through the mail that made false claims about helping them obtain government grants to pay for personal expenses.  He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.  Johnson already faced a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission, which contends that Johnson and other defendants profited through St. George-based iWorks and other Internet companies "by luring customers into trial memberships for bogus government-grant and money-making schemes, and then repeatedly charging them monthly fees for these and other memberships that they never signed up for."   The FTC froze Johnson's assets in January, and courts have rejected subsequent efforts by the defendant to free up some of the funds. He recently filed an emergency motion to release funds so he could pay personal bills that include a $16,600 monthly payment for his St. George home.     Read more
 
 
Las Vegas judge refuses to release funds for fraud, gambling figure
By Steve Green
Vegas Inc. - Henderson, Nevada
Originally published Tuesday 21 June 2011

A federal judge has denied a request by Utah fraud suspect and Las Vegas and Internet gambling figure Jeremy Johnson that some of his assets be released to cover living expenses and legal costs.  U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas, in an order dated Friday, noted "inconsistencies" and a "suspicious" transaction in denying the request by Johnson, who was arrested June 11 on a mail fraud charge.  Months before his arrest, Johnson and several of his companies were sued by the Federal Trade Commission in Las Vegas in what the FTC called a scam that cost consumers nationwide $289 million.  The FTC claims Johnson and nine associates operated a "far-reaching Internet enterprise" including I Works Inc. and 60 more companies that "deceptively enrolled unwitting consumers into memberships for products or services and then repeatedly charged their credit cards or debited their bank accounts without consumers' knowledge or authorization."  Johnson and his codefendants have denied defrauding anyone, but Hunt nevertheless appointed a receiver in January to take control of the assets of Johnson.  In court filings last month, attorneys for Johnson sought release of funds under control of the receiver to, among other things, pay their legal fees and so Johnson could make a monthly mortgage payment of $16,644 to SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah, for a Johnson home in that city.  The receiver opposed that request, arguing the value of the home is less than what is owed and that the mortgage itself is suspect.  That's because Johnson had extensive business dealings with SunFirst and the mortgage was created to finance the acquisition of $3.4 million worth of bank stock in the name of Johnson's brother and his parents.     Read more
 
 
Judge refuses jailed St. George millionaire's request for $27K in monthly living expenses
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, June 22, 2011

ST. GEORGE — While a multimillionaire philanthropist sits in jail awaiting return to Utah to face criminal charges, a federal judge in the civil case against him declined to release some of his assets to cover legal fees and living expenses.  U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt in Las Vegas ruled that Jeremy Johnson "is not entitled to monies that would continue funding a fiscally irresponsible lifestyle."  Johnson sought nearly $250,000 to pay attorneys and $27,000 a month to live on, including $2,600 a month for yard care for one of his houses.  Hunt last week found the request for living expense "unreasonable" for several reasons, one of which was that the house was "mortgaged through a suspicious and possibly fraudulent transaction."  The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Johnson last December, alleging his Internet companies scammed millions of people out of more than $289 million for products and services they didn't order.  The judge subsequently froze the St. George man's assets and appointed a receiver to oversee them.  Last week, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah indicted Johnson on one felony count of mail fraud in connection with his businesses.  Authorities arrested him in Phoenix on June 11 as he changed planes en route to Costa Rica, where he moved his family several months ago.  Federal marshals will return Johnson to Salt Lake City in the next several weeks, where he will be arraigned on the mail fraud charge.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson's request for access to funds denied
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published June 23, 2011

ST. GEORGE - Accused of scamming thousands out of their money through online money scams, St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson continues to sit in an Arizona jail, having lost access to his fortune.  Now, the one-time philanthropist, known in Southern Utah for using his helicopters to help with search and rescue missions, may also lose his home and a number of other assets.  SunFirst Bank asked the court on Wednesday to issue a foreclosure on Johnson's $3 million home, after a federal judge last week denied Johnson's emergency request for access to his fortune in order to pay for legal fees and living expenses.  U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt, in Las Vegas, ruled on Friday that Johnson could not have the funds he was seeking, which were used to fund "a fiscally irresponsible lifestyle."  Johnson was asking for funds to help cover $27,000 per month in living expenses alone, including a $16,600 monthly payment for his St. George home and $2,600 monthly for gardening.  The judge also questioned whether Johnson has been using funds that should be frozen.  The Federal Trade Commission, which filed the original complaint against Johnson, froze his assets in February, and he contended he has been living on his wife's $130,000 savings account.  However, court documents say Johnson has been traveling internationally in the interim, living a lavish lifestyle that included a Memorial Day weekend on a million-dollar houseboat on Lake Powell.     Read more
 
 
The Vent
The Spectrum
Originally published June 25, 2011

No wonder SunFirst bank is suffering. What is it going to do with Johnson's $3 million home?
 
 
Utah businessman set for federal court hearing
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published July 7, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A St. George businessman arrested in Phoenix on a federal mail fraud charge is set to make an initial appearance in a Utah courtroom.  Jeremy David Johnson has been transferred to Utah and will appear before U.S. District Magistrate Judge David Nuffer Thursday.  The 35-year-old Johnson was indicted in June on a single count of mail fraud.  If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Prosecutors say Johnson's company, iWorks, sent software to consumers for a supposedly risk-free trial, but then billed them online for products they didn't order.  The allegations parallel a civil complaint filed last December in Las Vegas by the Federal Trade Commission.  Travis Marker, a defense attorney in the civil case, says Johnson denies the allegations.
 
 
St. George millionaire pleads not guilty to mail fraud charge
By Geoffrey Fattah
KSL 5 TV
Originally broadcast July 7, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah philanthropist will get a chance next week to argue for his release from federal custody.  Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are talking about expanding charges against him.  During a hearing in federal court Thursday, Jeremy David Johnson pleaded not guilty to one count of mail fraud.  If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Johnson, who at one time was considered a multimillionaire, also declared to a federal magistrate judge that he could not afford to hire an attorney and asked for a public defense attorney to be appointed to him.  Defense attorney Nathan Crane said all of his client's assets have been frozen.  Assistant U.S. attorney Brent Ward said it is likely that the government will seek an additional grand jury indictment against Johnson within the coming weeks, but they had yet to process hundreds of thousands of documents associated with Johnson's business dealings.  Before being indicted on mail fraud last June, the Federal Trade Commission had filed a civil action against Johnson in Las Vegas in connection to his IWorks business.  Crane asked Judge David Nuffer for a hearing to give his client a chance to argue for his release.  Ward countered that given the fact that Johnson was arrested while trying to leave the country, plus additional evidence, Johnson should continue to be held in federal custody.  Nuffer has scheduled a detention hearing for July 11.     Read more
 
 
Johnson pleads not guilty
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published July 8, 2011

St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson pleaded not guilty Thursday on felony mail fraud charges connected to an alleged Internet scheme that reportedly cost consumers millions of dollars.  Johnson, facing charges from the Federal Trade Commission that he and his business partners bilked customers out of nearly $300 million over the past decade, was indicted in June on a single count of mail fraud.  IRS agents arrested him at an airport in Phoenix last month, with $26,400 cash on hand and a one-way ticket to Costa Rica, leading prosecutors to argue that he is a risk to leave the country.  Medlodie Rydalch, public information officer for the U.S. District Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City, said prosecutors consider Johnson a "flight risk and economic danger to the community."  A hearing is scheduled for Monday before U.S. Magistrate David Nuffer in Salt Lake City to determine whether the 35-year-old man will remain behind bars while awaiting trial.  The court assigned Salt Lake City attorney Nathan Crane to serve as Johnson's public defender.     Read more
 
 
St. George friends sticking up for Johnson before hearing
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published July 10, 2011

ST. GEORGE - Southern Utah supporters are vouching for St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, saying the man accused of running a massive online financial scheme deserves due process and the right to his freedom as he awaits trial.  Johnson faces a detention hearing in Salt Lake City Monday, where a federal court judge will decide whether the 35-year-old should remain incarcerated awaiting trial on felony mail fraud charges.  Johnson was already facing civil charges from the Federal Trade Commission that he and business partners took in $350 million over the past decade as part of a large-scale online fraud scheme when he was arrested on the criminal mail fraud charges last month.  Prosecutors charge that in a move related to his online businesses, Johnson's companies illegally sold CDs through the mail that offered to show people how to apply for government grants to help them pay for personal expenses.  Johnson pleaded not guilty to the fraud charge in a hearing on Thursday, and the court assigned Salt Lake attorney Nathan Crane to serve as public defender.  If convicted, Johnson could face 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  While the FTC complaint brands Johnson as the criminal "mastermind" of an enterprise that bilked hundreds of thousands of consumers out of their money, Johnson still has plenty of support back home, where he was a rescue pilot and major donor to numerous local entities.  On Saturday, Johnson's attorneys filed 70 pages worth of letters from members of the Southern Utah community - family and friends but also bankers, businessmen, members of nonprofit agencies and other community leaders - endorsing his character and testifying that they would not consider Johnson a flight risk.     Read more
 
 
St. George millionaire accused of Internet fraud to remain behind bars
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, July 11, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A pilot's license and apparent access to large sums of money will keep a St. George multimillionaire accused of fraud behind bars for now.  U.S. District Magistrate Judge David Nuffer ruled Monday that he doesn't have "adequate tools" to keep Jeremy D. Johnson from fleeing prosecution.  Johnson, 35, faces one count of mail fraud in connection with an alleged Internet scheme in which federal authorities contend consumers lost hundreds of millions of dollars.  Johnson, who entered the courtroom wearing a smile and a striped Davis County Jail jumpsuit, dejectedly put his chin in his hand after Nuffer announced the decision.  About 30 family and friends in the gallery gasped and some shed tears.  They declined to comment after the hearing.  Nuffer said he would consider releasing Johnson if a property bond of at least $1 million were posted.  "It means that we're not totally foreclosed from getting Jeremy out," said defense attorney Nathan Crane.  Family and friends, he said, are trying to "scrape together" unencumbered land for the bond.  "Nobody likes jail. He wants to get back with his wife and two kids," Crane said.  Johnson, 35, has been in jail since being arrested at the Phoenix airport en route to Costa Rica on June 11.  One of his carry-on bags contained $26,400 cash in a shoebox.  Crane told the judge Johnson was not fleeing the country but traveling with his family and two friends to set up a helicopter tour service company.  He said Johnson, a helicopter pilot, had gone back and forth to the Central American country several times in the past few months.  IRS agent Jamie Hipwell testified that Johnson's brother-in-law Andrew Ginnochio told him the Johnsons planned to live in Costa Rica for "several years."     Read more
 
 
Judge believes Jeremy Johnson is flight risk
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published July 12, 2011

ST. GEORGE - A federal judge ruled Monday that St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson will remain behind bars while he waits for trial on felony mail fraud charges.  U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer ruled Johnson to be a flight risk, agreeing with prosecutors that the 35-year-old may not stick around to face criminal charges that come with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Nuffer said he might consider releasing Johnson if he can post a $1 million bond, and Johnson's attorney, Nathan Crane, told the judge he would file a motion to pull from resources offered by family and friends to reach that amount.  Johnson was arrested in June at a Phoenix airport with $26,400 cash on hand and a one-way ticket to Costa Rica, leading prosecutors to allege that he intended to live outside the country, suggesting he may have hidden bank accounts.  "No bond is sufficient," Utah Assistant Attorney General Brent Ward told the judge during Monday's hearing in Salt Lake City.  Johnson's lawyers spent much of the day Monday presenting evidence to the contrary, arguing that he was taking cash with him for a start-up tourism helicopter business and that the home prosecutors claim he owns was actually a short-term rental.  About 30 people filled the courtroom in support of Johnson, and his attorneys presented 70 pages of letters from friends, family and community leaders vouching for him.  Ben Hafen, Johnson's lifetime friend and owner of a St. George insurance company, said the ruling was difficult to understand.  "That's one of those things where I just don't see the point," Hafen said, arguing that Johnson wouldn't run from his problems or leave his family and friends in Utah.     Read more
 
 
Scams leave teacher, others paying for more than they wanted
John L. Smith
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Originally published Jul. 17, 2011

In retrospect, Nicky Miller never had a chance.  She thought "free" meant "free."  The Minden special education teacher today operates a center for children with learning disabilities in the Northern Nevada town, but back in 2008 she was looking for a funding grant to help offset the startup costs of her school.  Like so many others, Miller took to the Internet and began searching.  And like so many others, she found an inviting website that held out the possibility of applying for and receiving federal funding to make her dream of running her own small school for kids with learning disabilities come true.  The site asked the question, "Will A New President Change The Federal Grant System?"  It featured a photograph of President Barack Obama and touted the information to be found in its materials and the official sounding Your Federal and Private Grant CD.  Best of all, it was absolutely free.  All she had to do was pay $2.29 for shipping and handling.  She entered her debit card number, and a few days later a small package arrived at her door.  The material was anything but official.  It was too general to help her create her own 501(c)3 nonprofit.  It appeared her search for answers would have to continue, but at least she hadn't lost anything in the exchange, right?  Wrong.  When she punched in her debit card number, Nicky Miller inadvertently fell down a rabbit hole and into the world of alleged Internet mega-scammer Jeremy Johnson.  When Miller studied her bank statements a few months later, she discovered that the unhelpful CD had been anything but free.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson seeking release from jail
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published July 28, 2011

ST. GEORGE — Attorneys for St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who is accused of running an online Internet scam that cost customers millions of dollars, are fighting to get their client out of jail as he awaits trial on mail fraud charges.  A hearing is scheduled for today in Salt Lake City as attorneys for Johnson and for the U.S. government argue whether the 33-year-old man should remain in custody, with the defense offering up a $1 million equity bond in exchange for release.  U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer said in a hearing earlier this month that he might consider a release if Johnson's supporters could post the bond, but the properties pledged must not be related to Johnson's finances.  Friends and family have stepped up with five properties, said Nathan Crane, Johnson's attorney.  "He has a lot of support in the community, and people are willing to bet their homes with Jeremy," Crane said.  However, the prosecution alleges Johnson poses such a flight risk that any condition of release, including the proposed bond, would not be enough.  "The government opposes the defendant's bond proposal and requests that the Court permit the government to present additional evidence establishing that the defendant presents a risk of non-appearance that cannot reasonably be overcome by any condition or combination of conditions of release," according to court documents.  In its filing of opposition, prosecutors state that they have witnesses who can testify to Johnson posing a flight risk.  They also indicate they have evidence that the bond proposal does not meet the court's requirements.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson to await trial in jail
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published July 29, 2011

ST. GEORGE - A federal judge ruled Thursday that St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson is a flight risk and must remain behind bars as he awaits trial on felony mail fraud charges.  At a lengthy hearing in Salt Lake City, friends and family, including multiple witnesses from the St. George area, testified on Johnson's behalf, offering to put up $1 million worth in property as a bond in order to ensure his release.  The 35-year-old is accused of illegally selling CDs through the mail that made faulty promises to customers, part of a business that the Federal Trade Commission is calling a massive online scheme that netted $350 million over the past decade.  U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer said previously he might accept the equity bond in exchange for release, but after hearing additional testimony and evidence from the prosecution he ruled that Johnson should remain incarcerated.  He also rejected a suggestion that Johnson be kept on house arrest with an ankle monitor.  Nuffer cited Johnson's international contacts, apparent access to cash and pilot's license - for years he helped with search and rescue efforts in Washington County - as reasons to keep him behind bars.  Shackled and wearing blue and white striped jail clothes, a tearful Johnson managed a weak smile to the 30 or so family and friends at the courthouse before being led away by U.S. Marshals. Johnson's wife, Sharla held her head between her hands, cried and looked at the floor after the ruling.     Read more
 
 
VINSON: Is law enforcement to blame for FLDS 'Lost Boys'?
By: MIKE VINSON, Post Columnist
Murfreesboro Post - Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Originally published Sunday, August 7, 2011

Given the mind-blowing news that pelts us on a daily basis, there is not much that surprises me, anymore.  To balance the budget, you might not get your monthly check.  Young celebs found dead from substance abuse.  FBI has new clues in the "D.B. Cooper" case.  The world is coming to an end sometime December 2012, according to a Mayan calendar.  And the list not only continues, but seems to grow exponentially with each tick of the clock.  However, a week or so back, I watched a news special that did pique my curiosity: the ongoing trial of Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a polygamist group with headquarters in Hildale, Utah, with sects in Texas, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota and British Columbia.  Jeffs has been charged with the sexual assault of two young girls.  Most are aware that in a "polygamist sect" the men have multiple wives, varying in ages.  According to reliable news sources, it's not unusual, within FLDS, for a 14- to 15-year-old girl to marry a man in his 50s and have children by him.  Resultant, scores of children have entered this world via the marital arrangement of the FLDS.  What really "got my goat," though, was the story of the "Lost Boys" of the FLDS.  As best research can tell, here's a brief synopsis of the "Lost Boys": Approximately 400 boys, most in their early teens, have been kicked out of or fled the FLDS.  Many of these boys, with little formal education, nor any real-life skills to speak of, were loaded up and driven to remote, faraway areas and dropped off to fend for themselves.  Consequently, a large percentage turned to drugs and prostitution as means of survival – many didn't survive.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson considers dropping lawyers
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published August 23, 2011

ST. GEORGE - St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson is considering dropping his lawyers and representing himself, apparently frustrated with his defense team after having sat in jail since early June.  Johnson delivered a letter Monday to U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer in Salt Lake City during a hearing in his mail fraud case, explaining some of his concerns and even alluding to self-representation, said Nathan Crane, the public defender assigned to Johnson's case.  "Nobody likes to be in jail, especially when they don't think they did anything wrong," Crane said, adding that Johnson's case in unusual in that white collar criminals typically aren't held behind bars so long.  Another hearing is slated for Sept. 9, and in the interim Crane said Johnson and his lawyers plan to discuss the situation.  Johnson, who is accused of defrauding thousands of customers out of $350 million through his web-based businesses, has been in jail since June 11, when he was arrested in a Phoenix airport on mail fraud charges connected to his online businesses.  Since then he has had two custody hearings, with friends and family testifying on the 35-year-old's behalf and even offering up $1 million worth of property to cover bail.  However, prosecutors have called Johnson a flight risk, pointing out that he is a pilot and has contacts overseas.  When arrested, Johnson had $26,000 in cash and a one-way ticket to Costa Rica.  At a detention hearing last month, a former business partner testified that Johnson had stashed gold and cash all over Southern Utah, prompting Nuffer to reject bail.     Read more
 
 
Regulators issue directive to St. George bank
Scott Kerbs
The Spectrum
Originally published August 30, 2011

ST. GEORGE - Representatives from SunFirst Bank are working to attract additional investors after federal regulators ordered the St. George institution to either raise additional capital, accept an offer to sell the bank or form a partnership with another financial institution.  An order known as a "supervisory prompt corrective action directive," issued by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on July 28 and made public Friday, describes SunFirst as "significantly undercapitalized" and directs the bank to take steps toward selling voting shares or obligations in an effort to raise capital or accept an offer to be acquired or combine with another bank.  "The bank's unacceptable capital restoration plan, deteriorating condition and management's inability to return the bank to a safe and sound condition require that prompt corrective action be taken immediately," the FDIC said in the directive.  Gerry Smith, an adviser to SunFirst's board of directors, said the bank experienced losses in recent years when the area's real estate market collapse resulted in a number of troubled loans.  SunFirst had $17,048,000 in total equity capital on June 30, representing a decline from the $23,645,000 in total equity capital recorded in June of 2010, according to the FDIC.     Read more
 
 
Regulators demand improvements at bank tied to poker, fraud cases
By Steve Green
Vegas Inc
Originally published Tuesday 30 August 2011

A small Utah bank tied to the Internet poker crackdown and to fraud suspect Jeremy Johnson has been hit with another Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. enforcement order.  The FDIC on Friday made public the order against SunFirst Bank of St. George, Utah, which through the first half of this year had lost $2.7 million on interest income of $3.8 million.  The bank, with $212.7 million in loans and other assets, had $179.5 million in deposits at the end of the second quarter and equity capital of about $17 million.  The bank last year agreed to the FDIC's demands that it stop processing funds for one of Johnson's companies also named in his civil fraud case in Las Vegas.  The company, Elite Debit, had processed credit and debit card charges for another Johnson firm named in the fraud lawsuit, I Works.  In the latest enforcement order dated July 28, the FDIC said SunFirst is "significantly undercapitalized" and it was ordered within 30 days to beef up its finances by selling stock or other obligations or to merge with another bank.  It was also ordered not to accept expensive brokered deposits, to limit the interest rates it pays on deposits, to not make any capital distributions or dividend payments and to not pay bonuses or award raises to staff.  This "Supervisory Prompt Corrective Action Directive" will remain effective until the bank shows it's adequately capitalized for four consecutive quarters.     Read more
 
 
Read Robb Evans, the FTC's Receiver of I Works, Inc., et al. and the Assets of Jeremy Johnson Notice of Motion and Motion for Order Approving and Authorizing Payment of Receiver's and Professionals' Fees and Expenses from Inception Through March 31, 2011 and Approving Stipulation and Settlement with Pivotal Payments, Inc. and CD Liquidation Trust filed in the US Distrist Court, District of Nevada June 10, 2011
 
 
Read the FDIC's Order to Pay Civil Money Penalty issued against SunFirst Bank of St. George, Utah on July 11, 2011
 
 
Read the FDIC's Supervisory Prompt Correction Action Directive issued against SunFirst Bank of St. George, Utah on July 28, 2011
 
 
St. George Businessman Jeremy Johnson Expected to Post Bail in Mail Fraud Case
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News
Originally published September 9, 2011

(Salt Lake City, UT) - The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting that Nathan Crane, a court appointed attorney for St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson and US attorneys are apparently close to an agreement that would allow Johnson to post bail and be released from jail pending a trial on mail fraud charges.  The agreement, expected to be finalized over the weekend, would provide for a multi-million dollar bond, substantially more than a previous amount of $1.2-mllion turned down by US Magistrate Judge David Nuffer.  Neither, US Attorney Brent Ward or Crane would say how much the bond would be although Crane told the Salt Lake Tribune after a Friday hearing, the amount would be substantially more than the previous bond amount.  The proposed bond would consist of the equity in homes and property of relatives and friends of Johnson, according to the tribune report which said a hearing is set for Wednesday to consider the proposed new agreeemnt.     Read more
 
 
Johnson may be granted bail
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published September 9, 2011

ST. GEORGE - St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson may be able to bail out of jail next week while he awaits a trial date on a federal mail fraud charge.  Johnson, 35, is accused of being the mastermind behind a massive online financial scheme in which he allegedly used the U.S. mail system to ship a variety of products tied to his company iWorks.  Johnson has been held in the Davis County Jail without possibility of bail since his arrest in June while preparing to board an international flight in Phoenix.  The government alleges iWorks used false information to market its products to customers, including shell corporations designed to mislead bankers who were growing increasingly reluctant to allow the company to use credit and debit card transactions over the Internet after a growing number of customers sought refunds for fees that were charged to their cards without their authorization.  Johnson's public defender, Salt Lake City attorney Nathan Crane, said he and the U.S. Attorney's Office are discussing options for allowing Johnson to make bail, and a new hearing in Salt Lake City's federal District Court has been scheduled before Judge David Nuffer for Wednesday morning.  "We think we're close to agreement on a bond proposal," Crane said Friday afternoon.     Read more
 
 
St. George millionaire accused of Internet marketing fraud to be released from jail
Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Friends and family of a St. George businessman accused of Internet marketing fraud put up a $2.8 million property bond to secure his release from jail.  Jeremy Johnson, 35, will leave the Davis County Jail on Thursday morning provided the 15 properties in Utah and California are properly filed in county recorders' offices.  The bond also includes one annuity.  Johnson has been incarcerated since his arrest June 10.  A federal grand jury indicted him on one count of mail fraud in connection with his online company iWorks.  The indictment alleges Johnson billed hundreds of thousands of people for products and services they didn't sign up for.  Federal prosecutors have said more charges in the case are likely.  Johnson's attorney Nathan Crane said he's now moving forward with Johnson's defense in what will be complex case.  Attorneys already have 8 million pages of documents to review.  "We have a lot of work to do," he said.  In authorizing Johnson's release, U.S. District Judge David Nuffer placed several restrictions on him.  He must wear a GPS monitor for at least three months, live in St. George and remain in Utah except to travel to Nevada for proceedings in the Federal Trade Commission case against him.  Johnson, a licensed pilot, also must surrender his pilot's license and passport.  Nuffer earlier was reluctant to release Johnson because he considered him a flight risk due to his overseas connections and ability as a pilot.
 
 
Utah man facing fraud charge set for release
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A southern Utah businessman accused of defrauding online consumers will be released from jail after friends and family put up $2.8 million in assets to ensure he'll show up for a federal trial.  Jeremy Johnson is set to be released Thursday from the Davis County Jail.  Sixteen people put up their homes, property or other financial holdings to secure Johnson's release.  A federal judge approved the agreement Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.  The 35-year-old Johnson has pleaded not guilty to one count of mail fraud.  The charge stems from allegations that Johnson's company iWorks charged consumers for products they never ordered.  The charge parallels a Federal Trade Commission civil action filed in Las Vegas last December.  Johnson faces a 20-year prison term if convicted.
 
 
Johnson to be released on bail
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published Sep. 14, 2011

ST. GEORGE - St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson is set to leave jail today, released by a federal judge Wednesday after friends and family fronted $2.8 million worth of property to get Johnson out from behind bars as he awaits trial on a federal mail fraud charge.  Johnson, 35, who was arrested June 11 on a single mail fraud charge related to his Internet businesses, had been refused bail for months, because he was considered a flight risk as he awaits the criminal trial and a related civil case in which he is charged with defrauding thousands of online customers by charging them for items they never purchased.  U.S. Magistrate David Nuffer turned down a similar bail proposal last month when friends and family offered $1 million after hearing testimony that Johnson has stashes of cash and gold hidden throughout Southern Utah.  Nuffer was also concerned about Johnson's abilities as a pilot - he is well known in Washington County for flying rescue missions and made national headlines last year when he flew to Haiti to help after the country was ravaged by an earthquake.  Nuffer approved the new proposal Wednesday after 16 people put up their homes, property or other financial holdings to secure Johnson's release, according to a court stipulation.  A lien will be placed on each of the properties, which would be forfeited to the federal government if Johnson were to flee.     Read more
 
 
Utah man in mail fraud case to be released on bond
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A southern Utah businessman accused of defrauding online consumers will be released from jail after friends and family put up $2.8 million in assets to ensure he'll show up for a federal trial.  Jeremy Johnson, of St. George, is set to be released Thursday from the Davis County Jail.  Sixteen people put up their homes, property or other financial holdings to secure Johnson's release.  A lien is being placed on each of the properties, which are in Utah and California.  Should Johnson flee prosecution, the properties would be forfeited to the federal government.  U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer approved the agreement at a hearing in Salt Lake City's federal court Wednesday, although Johnson can't be released until the liens on the Utah properties are filed with county recorders.  Johnson's attorney, Nathan Crane, said the paperwork should be complete by Wednesday afternoon.  Other conditions of Johnson's release include wearing an ankle monitor and surrendering both his passport and his pilot's license.  Johnson, 35, has been incarcerated since he was arrested at a Phoenix airport June 11.  He was carrying more than $26,000 in cash and a one-way plane ticket to Costa Rica.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson coming home after posting bail
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published September 15, 2011

ST. GEORGE — For the first time in three months, St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson is out from behind bars after friends and family posted his bail in a $2.8 million show of support.  Johnson has pleaded not guilty to a single mail fraud charge in connection to businesses that federal officials say were part of a multi-million-dollar internet scam.  He has been held since his June 11 arrest, considered a flight risk because of his overseas holdings and abilities as a pilot.  "We feel like there have been quite a few injustices dealt to him during this ordeal, so we're glad to see he's out and can help mount a defense," said Zakery Johnson, Jeremy Johnson's brother.  U.S. Magistrate David Nuffer had denied previous requests for release, concerned about Johnson's properties overseas and his experience with flying helicopters.  He denied a $1.2 million bail proposal after a former business partner testified that Jeremy Johnson had hidden caches of cash and gold throughout the area.  But his supporters have been clamoring for his release since Johnson's arrest, writing dozens of letters on his behalf and voicing over and over again that they would stake their wealth and reputations on his willingness to stand for trial.     Read more
 
 
Feds set to auction off Jeremy Johnson's business items
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published September 22, 2011

ST. GEORGE — Auctioneers are set to sell off an assortment of collector cars, computers, business machines, flat-screen televisions and other items that used to be part of iWorks and other companies principally ran by St. George businessman and fraud suspect Jeremy Johnson.  The defense team for Johnson is challenging the sale, filing appeals with the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, but as of late Thursday, no stay had been granted.  The items, which auctioneer Tom Erkelens guessed were worth at least $200,000, go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m., at a warehouse at 5099 Wheeler Way in Hurricane.  "There's some unique stuff," said Erkelens, the standing auctioneer for U.S. Bankruptcy Court, describing such items as a 1957 Chevy convertible, "eight or nine" flatscreen televisions and a snowplane (a vehicle that hydroplanes on skis over snow).  Erkelens said there will be a sale preview Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The items come from a building in St. George that is going into foreclosure, as well as a building at the St. George airport.  Both used to be part of the network of companies owned and operated by Johnson and his associates.     Read more
 
 
Judge puts St. George millionaire's planes, boat, classic cars up for sale
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Sept. 23, 2011

HURRICANE — Peppy planes, classic cars and a boat named "Animal House" are among the big boy toys once belonging to a St. George millionaire that a federal judge has ordered to be put up for sale.  The Federal Trade Commission seized millions of dollars in assets from Jeremy Johnson and his company iWorks as part of its case against him alleging Internet marketing fraud.  FTC attorneys say Johnson bilked online consumers of $275 million by charging their credit cards for services they didn't sign up for.  Johnson, according to court documents, lived a lavish lifestyle, owning multiple houses, businesses, helicopters, airplanes, classic and high-end cars — including a Ferrari and Lamborghini — and houseboats.  The FTC filed a civil complaint against him last December and obtained a court order to freeze his assets and place them in receivership.  A federal judge authorized the receiver to auction off or place for sale many of Johnson's possessions, including land or homes in Utah, California and Belize.  Johnson opposed the sale because none of the items are perishable, the depressed economy favors waiting and the assets should remain in place until the case is decided, according to court documents.  He also argued the classic cars would appreciate in value if kept in storage rather than sold now.  The judge concluded that Johnson's objections were without merit.  He ruled that maintaining, insuring and storing the assets costs money and that they should be converted to cash to be held by the receiver.     Read more
 
 
Read the US District Court of Nevada's Order to sell Jeremy Johnson's property at public auction, dated August 25, 2011
 
 
Emergency Appeal Filed to Halt Sale of Jeremy Johnson's Properties
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News - KCSG Television
Originally published September 23, 2011

(San Francisco, CA) - St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson filed a Pro Se appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco Friday to halt the sale of his properties by Statewide, a Salt Lake City auction company, scheduled for Saturday in Hurricane.  Minutes later Attorney Michael Studebaker filed a motion to stay the court ordered sale with a Memorandum of Law in Support of the Stay.  No Stay Order was issued by the Court as of 5:00PM Friday.  The sale approved by Nevada Federal Judge Roger Hunt August 25, 2011, authorized the receiver, appointed by the court, to sell properties owned by Johnson and his associates over their objection, that includes houseboats, aircraft, multiple real estate properties, classic cars and other items.  Court Order  Johnson contends other means would bring greater value other than a local auction.  He has previously stated in court records that the vehicles are collector's items which will not realize full value in an auction at Hurricane, Utah but will appreciate in value while court proceedings are pending.  None of the items scheduled for sale are perishable and the current depressed state of the economy favors selling any assets at a later date, according to court records.  There is not imminent need for a sale, he said.     Read more
 
 
Read the US District Court of Nevada's Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Stay Enforcement of Judgment Pending Appeal to halt the sale of Jeremy Johnsons property at public auction, filed in the US District Court of Nevada September 23, 2011
 
 
Johnson's items attract crowd
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published September 24, 2011

HURRICANE - Eager buyers snapped up nearly 250 lots of merchandise Saturday from the companies owned or operated by St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who has been beset by legal woes since federal authorities began investigating the marketing practices of his St. George-based company iWorks.  While a number of buyers waited for big-ticket items - property such as classic automobiles, a snow plane and a dune buggy owned by the Internet business - there was no shortage of people ready to bid for boxes containing artificial plants, computer monitors, office calculators, desks, miscellaneous software and other items.  Auctioneer Tom Erkelens of Statewide Auction Company asked if he could even sell three DirecTV boxes that came from the company.  "Is DirecTV going to be wanting these back? We're not guaranteeing any ownership. ... You're probably going to get a hassle, so don't come crying to me," he joked before letting the boxes go for a final bid of $25.  "We spent our money already," Gates said as she watched office chairs go on sale.  "We got here too late for the computers so we got a monitor set and keyboards."  Gates said she had also fallen victim to the enthusiasm generated by the auction.     Read more
 
 
Premature auction?
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published September 27, 2011

The stories surrounding St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson have grabbed the attention of many residents in St. George and in other communities.  Though he is well known in Southern Utah as a philanthropist and search-and-rescue pilot, Johnson has been accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme that took millions of dollars from unsuspecting customers.  Johnson and several other defendants face charges from the Federal Trade Commission that they operated a "far-reaching Internet enterprise" that tricked customers into signing up for memberships or purchasing products or services and then repeatedly charging their credit and debit accounts without authorization.  As a result, U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson froze Johnson's assets, as well as those of the Internet business I-Works and other companies, in January.  The court-appointed receiver put in charge of the assets received permission to conduct an auction last weekend in Hurricane because of a foreclosure on the business's building and debts.  People who showed up for the auction could purchase office equipment such as calculators, chairs, computer monitors and software.  But they also could bid on big-ticket items such as classic automobiles, a snow plane and a dune buggy owned by I-Works.  Many of the people who purchased items walked away feeling like they had made good deals.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson Wins Stay in Court Ordered Sale of Assets - Asks Court For Order to Pay Corporate Attorney
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News
KCSG Television - St. George, Utah
Originally published October 8, 2011

(Las Vegas, NV) – St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson has won a partial victory in the legal proceedings with the Federal Trade Commission in which he and other defendants are accused of fraudulent internet activity.  Johnson and co-defendants Duane Fielding, Anthon Holdings and Network Agenda, LLC represented by Ogden attorney Michael Studebaker, filed an Emergency Motion to Stay the sale of assets with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on September 23, 2011.  The sale proceeded since the Court did not grant the Stay until a few days later.  The Defendants filed a subsequent Motion to Void the Sale and Return the Property and Personal Assets on September 28, 2011 contending the Defendant's constitutional rights of due process were violated.  The FTC claimed the Defendants forfeited their right when they didn't file any opposition at a July hearing in which the Court approved the sale.  What the federal judge apparently did not know was that Johnson was not represented by counsel in the hearing, never received notice of the hearing even though the federal officials knew where he was residing because they had him in jail.     Read more
 
 
St. George Businessman Jeremy Johnson Seeks to Tell iWorks Story Under Heavy FTC Opposition
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News Exclusive
KCSG Television - St. George, Utah
Originally published October 13, 2011

(St. George, UT) – Local business entrepreneur Jeremy Johnson who was the CEO of iWorks company located in St. George and employing over 1000 individuals, hopes his emergency motions will be heard which asked the Court to stay the sale and return the property and assets.  Court records show the sale of estate assets (Johnson's assets) seized by the Court in February grossed $166,250.90 of which Statewide Auction received $24,937.66.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed seven motions in opposition Wednesday in the case presided over by senior Nevada District Judge Roger L. Hunt.  The judge did not afford opposing replies to the defendants, Johnson and Fielding in a hearing scheduled for 3:00PM Friday, October 14, 2011 in Las Vegas.  The Plaintiff's Motion in Opposition is adamant the Court Ordered sale shouldn't be stayed nor should the sale be vacated and property returned as requested in the motions filed Pro Se by Johnson and Michael Studebaker.  Ogden attorney Michael Studebaker is on behalf of Duane Fielding.  The Motions were filed September 23 and September 28, 2011, the day the judge issued a Stay Order pending a hearing.  Wednesday the (FTC) filed seven motions in opposition to the Johnson-Fielding motions asking the Court to stay and vacate the sale and return the property and personal assets to the estate (Johnson's assets).     Read more
 
 
Read the FTC's Opposition to Defendant Johnson's Motion to Vacate Order and Void Sale filed in the US District Court of Nevada October 12, 2011
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Opposition to Emergency Motions for Stay of Sale Order Pending Appeal by Jeremy Johnson filed in the US District Court of Nevada October 12, 2011
 
 
Read the FTC's Preliminary Injunction Order against Jeremy Johnson, filed in the US District Court of Nevada February 10, 2011
 
 
When leaving is the only option
Brent Holloway
The Reflecting Pool
The Spectrum
Originally published October 14, 2011

A few weeks ago, I attended a screening of a documentary called "Sons of Perdition"; a film about three boys, named Joe, Bruce and Sam, who courageously fled the polygamous lifestyle of Hildale and Colorado City.  It was not an easy movie to watch.  In many ways, I found it quite unsettling.  For one thing, as a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was once again confronted with the history of my Mormon faith and of my own family pedigree.  Yes, I am a product of polygamy — and I loathe the reminder.  Even though my particular group, the main body of the LDS Church, stopped practicing this defining tenet of Mormonism well over a century ago, it still lingers, never having been fully excised out of the LDS doctrine.  So, I cringed as I watched this modern incarnation of Mormon polygamy, albeit practiced by a break-away sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who have refused to give up "the principle."  The film realistically portrayed the difficulty of leaving modern polygamous culture.  It was as if these boys suddenly jumped from a cliff with pure abandon, flailing a bit at times — seemingly entirely unprepared for the world that they encountered, armed with few resources other than an abundance of youthful hubris.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson seeks monetary damages
St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson loses appeal to stop auction and files lawsuit
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published October 15, 2011

ST. GEORGE - St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson filed a lawsuit in St. George's 5th District Court on Friday seeking monetary damages stemming from the auction of his assets.  The lawsuit was filed hours before a Las Vegas federal judge denied Johnson's requests to stop the further sale of his company's property and to return items already sold at auction.  The assets have been held by a receiver appointed as part of a federal lawsuit filed by the FTC against Johnson's companies.  The lawsuit accuses Johnson's company I-Works and related corporate entities of luring customers into "bogus government-grant and money-making schemes" and then charging fees to their credit cards without permission.  Johnson was arrested in June at a Phoenix airport on a similar criminal complaint filed in Utah's federal court, and while he was held in jail, the Las Vegas court approved the receiver's request to auction some of Johnson's assets to create liquidity in the civil case and put a stop to mounting debts associated with warehousing the property.  The September auction of more than 200 lots of office items and vehicles in Hurricane provided the receiver with hundreds of thousands of dollars.     Read more
 
 
St. George businessman sues over auction of assets
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011

ST. GEORGE — A St. George businessman accused of defrauding online consumers has filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages stemming from a September auction of his assets.  Jeremy Johnson filed the lawsuit Friday in 5th District Court hours before a Las Vegas federal judge denied his request to halt the further sale of his company's property and to return items already sold at auction, The Spectrum of St. George reported.  The assets have been held by a receiver appointed as part of a civil lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission against Johnson.  More than 200 items were sold Sept. 24 to cover the mounting debts of Johnson, 35, whom federal authorities have accused of running a $350 million fraud scheme through his company, iWorks.  Johnson is suing the California-based receiver, Robb Evans & Associates, and Statewide Auction Co., which presided over the auction.  Among other things, Johnson's complaint contends a 1957 Chevy Bel Air worth about $100,000 was sold for less than half its value, and an airplane worth about $1.8 million was allowed to suffer weather-related damage that affected its value.  Officials at Robb Evans & Associates did not immediately return a phone call Saturday. But Tom Erkelens of Statewide Auction Co. disagreed about the value of the Bel-Air, which was the auction's top-selling item at $48,000.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson Denied Motions to Set-aside Estate Sales - Sues Receiver for Breach of Duty
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News
KCSG Television - St. George, Utah
Originally published October 15, 2011

(Las Vegas, NV) - Nevada Federal Judge Roger L. Hunt Friday denied motions to stay, vacate and return property sold at an court ordered estate auction sale in Hurricane September 24, 2011 and a subsequent sale of property in Sanpete County filed Pro Se by Jeremy Johnson and Michael Studebaker, Ogden attorney Michael Studebaker on behalf of Duane Fielding.  The denial by the Court was not unexpected by the defendants.  Studebaker said his clients didn't agree with the ruling and may file an appeal.  Johnson told KCSG news he thought the judge was fair and has a reputation for making decisions "by-the-book"(law) and in the long run it could prove beneficial for the defendants.  Johnson contends the receiver has breached his fiduciary obligation to the Court.  Johnson said "the receiver was appointed by the Court to protect the estate (Johnson's assets) and contrary to some opinions, the receiver is employed by the Court to manage and protect the estate and is responsible only to the Court (Judge Hunt) not the FTC," he said.  "There has been no finding, by any Court or any independent forum, of any improprieties by iWorks, my companies, me or co-defendants," Johnson said.     Read more
 
 
Read Jeremy Johnson's Complaint regarding the seizure of his property, filed in the Utah Fifth District Court October 14, 2011
 
 
Regulators close SunFirst Bank
By Kevin Jenkins
kevin@thespectrum.com
The Spectrum
Originally published November 4, 2011

ST. GEORGE — State banking regulators closed St. George-based SunFirst Bank on Friday following a review of the value of the bank's assets, but the three Washington County branches will reopen today under new ownership.  "We just want to get the word out there that everybody's money is safe," Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Ombudsman Barbara Brunson said Friday evening.  The Utah Department of Financial Institutions closed the troubled bank, which has two branches in St. George and one in Hurricane, and appointed the FDIC as the receiver for the bank's deposits.  The bank failure is the first in Utah this year, and the 87th nationwide as financial institutions continue to cope with the effects of the recession, particularly the collapse of the real estate market.  A bank in Nebraska was also closed Friday, but the industry is on track to end the year below last year's peak of 157 closed banks.  To protect the bank's depositors, the FDIC entered into an agreement with Cache Valley Bank of Logan to take over most of the bank's deposits.  "It's a whole-bank transaction," Brunson said, adding that about $15 million of the bank's deposits were frozen before the bank's failure and are being retained by the FDIC pending possible external litigation.     Read more
 
 
SunFirst Bank fails amid money laundering case; Cache Valley to assume deposits
By Amy Joi O'Donoghue
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Nov. 4, 2011

ST. GEORGE — SunFirst Bank, whose vice chairman and co-owner has been indicted in an alleged Internet gambling and money laundering scheme, was closed Friday by state regulators but will continue to be federally insured and operate as Cache Valley Bank.  Depositors of SunFirst Bank will automatically become depositors of Cache Valley Bank and deposits will remain insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which has entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Cache Valley Bank.  All three branches of SunFirst Bank will reopen as Cache Valley Bank during regular business hours on Saturday.  On Friday evening and over the weekend, depositors of SunFirst Bank whose accounts were assumed by Cache Valley Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards, according to the FDIC.  Checks drawn on those accounts will continue to be processed.  Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.  The FDIC said customers of SunFirst Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Cache Valley Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other Cache Valley Bank branches to process their accounts as well.  The failure of SunFirst comes nearly seven months after John Campos, 57, was among 11 men federal prosecutors indicted for their alleged participation in a conspiracy involving the three largest Internet poker companies doing business in the United States.  Campos is co-owner and vice chairman of the bank.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson starts to fight back
Businessman charged with mail fraud starts anti-FTC website after another arrest
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published November 28, 2011

ST. GEORGE - Police arrested St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson late Sunday on a warrant pertaining to year-old check fraud charges out of Nevada, an act Johnson is calling a "hostile" action perpetrated by the Federal Trade Commission.  Hurricane police stopped Johnson after a call indicating he was driving a vehicle that did not belong to him, said Nancy Perkins, HPD spokesperson.  Officers confirmed with the owner of the vehicle that Johnson had permission to drive it, but during a routine check they found the outstanding warrant, which was issued Oct. 20 out of the Clark County District Attorney's Office.  Johnson, already battling a mail fraud charge from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah and facing allegations from the FTC that he operated a massive illegal Internet enterprise, was booked on $112,150 bail.  The check fraud charge originated from checks written before a federal court judge froze Johnson's assets in January, according to a press release issued on a website Johnson launched Monday titled www.evilftc.com.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson arrested for allegedly writing bad $100K checks at Vegas casino
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

HURRICANE — Indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson spent several hours in jail Sunday after being arrested on a warrant for allegedly writing bad checks for more than $100,000 at a Las Vegas casino.  Johnson says the arrest is "self-fulfilled prophesy" related to the Federal Trade Commission fraud case pending against him.  "There was plenty of money to cover all the checks written on the accounts. The government decided to bounce them not me. They are very angry with me at the moment so this is their retaliation. They badly want me back in jail where I can't defend myself in the case," he wrote in an email to the Deseret News.  Hurricane police stopped Johnson after receiving information he was driving a vehicle that did not belong to him.  Officers contacted the owner who told them he had given Johnson permission to drive the vehicle, said Hurricane police spokeswoman Nancy Perkins.  During the traffic stop, police ran a routine check on Johnson, 35, and found an outstanding warrant from Nevada, she said.  Officers booked Johnson into the Washington County Jail just after 5 p.m. on the third-degree felony theft warrant, which carried a cash-only bail of $112,150, jail records show.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson fights fraud allegations with website targeting 'evil' FTC
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Nov. 30 2011

ST. GEORGE — A St. George businessman has taken to familiar turf to fight accusations of fraud: the Internet.  One-time multimillionaire Jeremy Johnson went on the offensive against what he sees as "dirty deeds by big government" with a website called evilftc.com where he rails against the Federal Trade Commission investigation of his company I Works.  He targets specific FTC attorneys and a federal prosecutor with phrases such as "he missed the class on constitutional rights in law school."  He also uses a photo of Mike Myers' character Dr. Evil as a stand-in for one federal lawyer.  On the site, Johnson posts email exchanges between himself and FTC attorneys, court transcripts and inflammatory rhetoric.  He has also set up Twitter and Facebook accounts.  "I and the other defendants in this case have decided that we will no longer remain silent and let you mislead the media with your lies and deceit," he wrote in a recent email to an FTC attorney.  "We are compiling documentation to prove that we are innocent of your allegations."     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson Raises More Questions in Amended Complaint Against Court Appointed Receiver
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News
KCSG Television - St. George, Utah
Originally published November 30, 2011

(St. George, UT) – Southern Utah business entrepreneur Jeremy Johnson amended his complaint last week filed against the court appointed Receiver Rob Evans & Associates in Fifth District Court at St. George on October 14, 2011.  In the amended complaint, Evans is accused of theft, theft by deception, and breach of fiduciary duty as the Receiver in the Federal Trade Commission federal court case against Johnson, nine other co-defendants, iWorks and affiliated companies.  Johnson is accused of using negative option marketing to bilk consumers of millions of dollars.  So far, the Federal Trade Commission has not proven its allegations although it did convinced a federal judge to issue a court order seizing the assets of iWorks and affiliated companies charging the defendants with illegal online marketing activity.  This dispute arises from the Receiver's seizure of personal property exempted from this Court's Preliminary Injunction, the sale of Jeremy Johnson's assets at auction for substantially less than their value, and for Evans' failure to maintain property.  Complaint  Evans filed an Emergency Motion asking the court to compell Johnson to dismiss his state lawsuit against the Receiver claiming Johnson could not file a lawsuit against the Receiver without permission of the court.     Read more
 
 
Read Jeremy Johnson's First Amended Complaint regarding the seizure of his property, filed in the Utah Fifth District Court November 22, 2011
 
 
Read Jeremy Johnson's Objection to Receiver's Emergency Motion for Order Compelling Compliance regarding the seizure of his property, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada November 22, 2011
 
 
Jeremy Johnson strikes back at accusers
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published December 3, 2011

ST. GEORGE - Facing allegations of fraud, St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson has gone on the offensive after spending three months in jail and losing assets to federal seizure.  Taking to the Internet this week with a website that targets the Federal Trade Commission and "dirty deeds by big government," the former multi-millionaire is accusing officials within the agency of lying about their interactions with him and trying to bully him into signing a settlement.  The FTC did not issue a response to the website.  FTC spokesman Frank Dorman said via email that the agency does not comment on pending litigation.  The FTC alleges Johnson used a complex web of Internet sites, shell companies and accounting tricks to defraud thousands of customers out of more than $270 million during the past decade, freezing his assets and selling some of the property at auction.  He also faces a criminal count of mail fraud stemming from CDs that were sent out as part of his Internet businesses.  Through it all, Johnson is maintaining that he is innocent of all charges, pleading not guilty in a criminal case and demanding a speedy trial, claiming he can prove the government's allegations are false.     Read more
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Receiver's Emergency Motion for Order Compelling Jeremy Johnson and Others to Comply with Preliminary Injunction Order by Disabling Improper Web Site; Memorandum of Points and Authorities and Declaration of Gary Owen Caris in Support Thereof filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada December 14, 2011
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Motion and Motion for Order Compelling Turnover of Aircraft, Related Documentation and Vehicle to Receiver Pursuant to Preliminary Injunction Order; Memorandum of Points and Authorities and Declaration of Gary Owen Caris in Support Thereof; Declaration of Kenton Johnson in Support Thereof filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada December 30, 2011
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Minute Order Re: Receiver's Emergency Motion for Order Compelling Jeremy Johnson and Others to Comply with Preliminary Injunction Order by Disabling Improper Web Site filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada January 6, 2012
 
 
Johnson allowed to gather evidence
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published January 27, 2012

ST. GEORGE - A federal judge overseeing the Federal Trade Commission's lawsuit against St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson will allow Johnson to continue to gather evidence for his defense, but the court is permitting federal prosecutors in Utah to object to any subpoenas they think will adversely affect a separate criminal case they filed against Johnson.  "We're very happy. It's something we can definitely work with," U.S. Attorney's Office Public Affairs Officer Melodie Rydalch said following the hour-long hearing in Las Vegas on Thursday.  "Anytime we have a concern about a subpoena related to Mr. Johnson ... we can call it to his (the judge's) attention, and he will throw it out," Rydalch said.  "He did that today. There were quite a few (thrown out)."  Johnson also claimed a victory in the matter, noting that the ruling did not provide prosecutors with blanket permission to stop all his subpoenas.  "The judge said (to prosecutors), 'You'd better not just do what you did here. You'd better be pretty specific about why it affects the criminal case,'" Johnson said.  Johnson and nine other defendants are accused in the Nevada FTC lawsuit of using the St. George-based Internet marketing enterprise iWorks and more than 50 related corporate entities to lure customers into "bogus government-grant and money-making schemes" and then charging subsequent fees to customers' credit cards without permission.  The companies' assets have been seized by a court-appointed receiver, and much of the property has been sold at public auction, even though a final judgment has not yet been issued in the lawsuit.     Read more
 
 
Fair trial
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published January 30, 2012

The case against Jeremy Johnson - a St. George businessman who is, perhaps, best known for his work as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot - stirs many emotions.  Johnson and nine other defendants have been accused by the Federal Trade Commission of using his business, iWorks, and other corporate entities to lure customers into what the government says are Internet scams.  Johnson also is facing criminal charges in Utah.  According to prosecutors, millions of dollars in damage have been inflicted on would-be customers. Indeed, the charges are serious.  If Johnson is convicted in a fair trial, he deserves to lose his freedom and treasure.  But the key words there are "if" and "fair."  Thursday, the courts shot down a motion by federal prosecutors to prevent Johnson, who is operating as his own attorney, from issuing subpoenas in the FTC case.  Prosecutors believe the contact with witnesses could impact the criminal prosecution in Utah.  The courts stepped up in defense of constitutional rights by denying the prosecutors' motion.  Johnson is accused of bilking millions of dollars from many people.  If the court finds those allegations to be true, then Johnson deserves punishment.  But until he's convicted, he has the right to defend himself.  And part of that defense includes gathering statements and evidence.     Read more
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Motion and First Omnibus Motion for Order: (1) Approving and Confirming Sales of Real and Personal Property and for Related Relief; and (2) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof; Declaration of Kenton Johnson in Support Thereof filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada February 3, 2012
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Order Re: Motion for Order Compelling Turnover of Aircraft, Related Documentation and Vehicle to Receiver Pursuant to Preliminary Injunction Order filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada February 13, 2012
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Emergency Motion to Expedite Determination of Receiver's Motion to Approve Sale of Richfield Property Only (Included In First Omnibus Motion for Order Approving and Confirming Sales of Real and Personal Property and for Related Relief) and to Modify Orders Granting Extensions of Response Deadline as to Richfield Property only; Declaration of Gary Owen Caris in Support Thereof filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada February 17, 2012
 
 
Report says Utah man hid $51 million from FTC
ABC 4 News
Originally published February 21, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A court-appointed receiver says a Utah businessman used a string of shell companies to conceal more than $51 million in assets from federal regulators investigating his internet-based business operations.  In a January report filed in federal court in Las Vegas, receiver Rob Evans & Associates says a records search found Jeremy Johnson formed 39 new business entities after the Federal Trade Commission launched its investigation in February 2010.  The companies were formed under other people's names, but held Johnson's assets.  The FTC filed a civil lawsuit against Johnson and nine associates in December 2010.  FTC attorneys say Johnson's online company iWorks bilked consumers of some $350 million by charging unauthorized amounts on their credit or debit cards.  The St. George entrepreneur and philanthropist has denied the allegations.
 
 
Jeremy Johnson accused of hiding millions
Court-appointed receiver alleges St. George businessman hid assets after probe started
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published February 21, 2012

ST. GEORGE - Indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson is hiding more than $50 million via a network of shell companies in order to hide assets from federal authorities, according a court-appointed receiver tasked with tracking down the funds.  California-based Robb Evans & Associates, appointed by a U.S. District Court judge under a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission, alleges a complicated scheme in which dozens of companies were set up to conceal $51.4 million, generated mostly by processing electronic checks for online poker companies after Johnson was asked by the FTC to preserve his assets while it investigated.  Johnson contended Monday that he is not interested in the money because it isn't his.  He said the receiver is only "panicking, trying to get whatever they can as fast as they can" because the FTC's freeze of his assets could be overturned soon, explaining that the testimony that resulted in the freeze in the first place was given under government intimidation and that the people who testified are changing their stories.  "Basically, anybody I gave money to in the last five years, they're trying to get it back," Johnson said, adding that the receiver is trying to get back tithing Johnson paid to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that the report regurgitates part of a list he has provided that shows every entity to which he transferred money in that time.     Read more
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Order Re: Emergency Motion to Expedite Determination of Receiver's Motion to Approve Sale of Richfield Property Only (Included In First Omnibus Motion for Order Approving and Confirming Sales of Real and Personal Property and for Related Relief) and to Modify Orders Granting Extensions of Response Deadline as to Richfield Property only filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada February 27, 2012
 
 
5 juveniles killed in Ariz. car crash near Utah border
The Associated Press
Standard-Examiner - Ogden, Utah
Originally published March 8, 2012

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- The Mohave County Sheriff's Office says five juveniles have been killed in a car crash in the Arizona Strip area in northwest Arizona.  Deputies responded to the crash scene Wednesday afternoon about 17 miles south of Centennial Park, which is near the Utah border and Colorado City, Ariz.  The crash may have occurred sometime late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.  The crash remains under investigation and the sheriff's office says alcohol may be a factor. Authorities have not released any names.
 
 
Arizona crash near Utah border kills 5 youths
by Kayla Frost
The Arizona Republic
Originally published March 8, 2012

Five juveniles died when a car they were in rolled over in Mohave County sometime between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, according to officials Thursday.  The Mohave County Sheriff's Office released few details other than deputies responded at 4:43 p.m. Wednesday to the rollover on a road about 17 miles south of Centennial Park, which is near the Utah border.  Five juveniles were declared dead and a sixth was airlifted to an area hospital.  Alcohol might have been a factor, according to the Sheriff's Office.  Officials are not releasing the names of victims until next of kin are notified.
 
 
Read the Mohave County Sheriff's Office Press Release regarding the death of 4 teenagers and one adult in a vehicle rollover accident near Centennial Park, dated March 8, 2012
 
 
Five dead in Arizona rollover
Samantha Sadlier
The Spectrum
Originally published March 8, 2012

ST. GEORGE - Five people were declared dead at the scene of a single-car rollover that took place late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning approximately 17 miles south of Centennial Park, Ariz., according to a press release issued Thursday by the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.  The deceased victims are Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hildale, Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 17, of Cane Beds, Ariz., Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, of Colorado City, and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, of Colorado City.  The accident occurred on Big Warren Road, according to the press release.  One other passenger, Nakita Timpson, 18, another Colorado City resident, was airlifted to Dixie Regional Medical Center after Mohave County Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene of the accident Wednesday afternoon, according to the press release.  Investigators determined the Chevrolet Suburban involved in the accident failed to negotiate a turn on a dirt road, according to the release.  The cause of the accident may have been alcohol related, but the matter remains under investigation.  Autopsies for the victims are scheduled for Monday.  DRMC spokeswoman Terri Draper said she was not able to release information regarding Nakita Timpson.
 
 
5 killed in rollover accident along Arizona Strip
Survivor was pinned in car 18 hours before discovered, uncle says
By Pat Reavy
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, March 8 2012

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — Five people, mostly teens, were killed and a sixth seriously injured in a rollover crash in a remote area along the Arizona Strip.  The crash scene wasn't discovered until many hours after it occurred.  Most, if not all, of the victims were affiliated or previously affiliated with the Fundamentalist LDS Church, which is based in the area.  According to a relative and investigators, the group may have been in the desert to celebrate a birthday and escape from parental and religious strictures.  The accident wasn't reported to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office until 4:43 p.m. on Wednesday.  But investigators believe the crash happened sometime Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.  A Chevy Suburban rolled on Big Warren Road, a dirt road approximately 17 miles south of Centennial Park, after failing to make a turn, said Mohave County sheriff's spokeswoman Trish Carter.  Investigators were looking at whether alcohol was a factor in the accident, she said.  There was a lot of beer at the scene and the group may have been out celebrating a birthday, Mohave County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jim McCabe told 3TV in Arizona.  He also noted there were high winds in the area that night.  Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah; Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hildale, Utah; Rachel Anne Colgrove, 17, of Cane Beds, Ariz.; Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, of Colorado City, Ariz.; and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, of Colorado City, Ariz., were all killed at the scene.  Holm was driving the vehicle when it crashed.  Nakita Timpson, Jamison's sister who turned 18 on Wednesday, was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, where relatives said doctors were considering whether to amputate one of her legs.     Read more
 
 
 
Crash leaves four teens, adult dead
by Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Fox 13 News
KSTU TV
Originally broadcast March 8, 2012

Five people are dead and one is seriously hurt after a rollover crash near Centennial Park, Ariz., according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.  They believe the accident occurred either Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning on Big Warren Road.  But, deputies were not called to the scene until Wednesday afternoon.  "We are trying to put together a good timeline," said Chief Deputy Jim McCabe, of the Mohave County Sheriff's Department.  "It appears that there [were] other people that were out in this remote location that left prior to that vehicle leaving. And the next day when they didn't arrive in school, didn't see them in school, then some of them became worried and started back tracking where they had been the night before and came upon the accident."  He said the crash occurred on a dirt road where a Chevy Suburban failed to negotiate a turn and rolled.  Chief Deputy McCabe said they think survivor Nakita Timpson, 18, of Colorado City, was trapped in the vehicle for up to 15 hours.  She was airlifted to Dixie Regional Medical Center.  "She was actually trapped by the vehicle," said Chief Deputy McCabe.  "I Understand that she is going to survive the crash."  Police are investigating the cause of the crash and said alcohol may have played a factor, as beer cans were found on the scene.  The deceased victims are Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah, Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hilldale, Utah, Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 17, of Cane Beds Ariz., Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, of Colorado City, Ariz., and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, of Colorado City, Ariz., according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.
 
 
Five killed in car crash after leaving teen's birthday party in the desert... and they weren't found until 15 HOURS later
By Meghan Keneally
Daily Mail - London, England
Originally published 8th March 2012

A birthday celebration ended in tragedy as four teens and one young man died when their car crashed off a remote Arizona desert.  Only one of the six passengers in the Chevrolet Suburban survived the rollover crash and it is thought that she was trapped in the car for up to 15 hours before help arrived.  The accident occurred either late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, but police did not arrive on the scene until Wednesday afternoon.  Only 18-year-old Nakita Timpson, whose birthday the group was celebrating, survived the crash and was flown to a Utah hospital.  'She was actually trapped by the vehicle. I understand that she is going to survive the crash,' said Mohave County Sheriff chief deputy Jim McCabe.  Her brother, 19-year-old Jamison Timpson, was killed, as was their cousin who was driving, 22-year-old Carl Holm.  All three grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints before leaving or being forced out - Nakita Timpson very recently, friends and relatives told the Salt Lake Tribune.  The youngest victim, Virgel Roundy, 15, was also from the Warren Jeffs-led polygamous sect; his father is the town's police chief.     Read more
 
 
5 people killed in northwest Arizona car crash
by Mike Watkiss
3TV Phoenix
Originally broadcast March 8, 2012

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Five young people from the Colorado City area were killed late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning in a single vehicle rollover on an isolated dirt road about 17 miles south of the Utah-Arizona border.  A sixth passenger in the Chevy Suburban -- an 18-year-old girl -- survived the accident but was seriously injured and is now being treated at a Utah hospital.  "Everybody who is dealing with this is having a real hard time," says Mohave County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Jim McCabe.  The deceased have now been identified as 17-year-old Monica Joy Bistline, 17-year-old Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 15-year-old Virgel Taylor Roundy, 19-year-old Jamison Holm Timpson and 22-year-old Carl Otto Holm, who is believed to have been the driver.  The sole survivor is identified as Nakita Timpson.  "There was mention of a birthday party," Chief Deputy McCabe told 3TV when asked what may have taken the young people out into the desert so late at night. There was lots of beer at the scene," McCabe said.  Weather may have also played a role.  "The weather was horrendous. That's when we were having real high winds in the area and like I said it was out on a dirt road in the middle of the desert.     Read more
 
 
 
Five Young Adults Killed In Crash
Ladd Egan
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast March 8, 2012

(KUTV) ARIZONA – Family and friends are grieving the loss of 5 people from the polygamist communities of Hilldale and Colorado City.  They were all killed in an accident.  The wreckage wasn't discovered for several hours.  The lone survivor Nakita Timpson. She is said to be doing okay.  The crash happened on her 16th birthday.  She waited over 14 hours for help to arrive.  It wasn't until friends came looking that they found the wreckage.  "Expect the worst hope for the best and this was the worst," said Clayton Bistline, whose daughter was killed in the accident.  Clayton Bistline is searching through the wreckage for his daughter's belongings.  He finds school work with his daughter's name on it: Monica Bistline.  She was just 17 years old.  She was riding in this Suburban when it ran off the road and rolled over in the Arizona desert.  Heavenly Father gives live and takes life," Bistline said.  She is just one of five who died in the accident, including another 17-year-old girl and three boys – ages 15, 19 and 22.  Friends were in pure disbelief when they heard.  Vilate Hammon was in the Suburban just hours before the crash.  "Said good-bye, didn't realize it would be the last time," she said.  She got dropped off at home and wondered where her friends were the next day at school.     Read more
 
 
Five killed in AZ Strip rollover
Erin Taylor
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published March 9, 2012

KINGMAN - An 18-year-old girl is the only survivor of a car crash that killed five others in the Arizona strip area.  The single-vehicle rollover accident occurred on Big Warren Road, 17 miles south of Centennial Park sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.  Sheriff's Spokeswoman Trish Carter said the Chevy Suburban that the teens were traveling in failed to negotiate a turn on a dirt road.  The victims are identified as Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah; Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hildale, Utah; Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 17, of Cane Beds, Ariz.; Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, of Colorado City; and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, of Colorado City Arizona.  The survivor, 18-year-old Nakita Timpson, of Colorado City, was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center.  The Sheriff's Office said alcohol may be a factor in the accident but the matter is still being investigated.
 
 
Five young people killed, one injured in rollover crash
By RODD CAYTON
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Friday, March 9, 2012

KINGMAN — Five young people were killed and another hospitalized in a single-vehicle rollover accident in the Arizona Strip, Mohave County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Trish Carter said Thursday.  The crash, about 17 miles south of Centennial Park, occurred late Tuesday or early Wednesday on Big Warren Road, Carter said.  Investigators, she said, have determined that the Chevy Suburban the group was traveling in failed to negotiate a turn on a dirt road.  The dead were identified as Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah; Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hildale, Utah; Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 17, of Cane Beds, Ariz.; Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, both of Colorado City.  The only survivor, Carter said, was 18-year-old Nakita Timpson of Colorado City, who was admitted at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah.  A hospital spokeswoman said she was unable to release any information about Timpson's condition Thursday.  Carter said alcohol may have been a factor in the crash, but it was unknown whether any of the occupants was wearing a seat belt, or how fast the Suburban was going.  The accident remains under investigation and, she said, and autopsies are scheduled for Monday.
 
 
Five Dead in SUV Rollover Near Arizona-Utah Border
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News
KCSG Television
Originally published March 9, 2012

(Centennial Park, AZ) - Mohave County authorities said Thursday that an adult and four youths in a Chevrolet Suburban were killed when their SUV missed a turn and rolled-over.  Dead in the fatal rollover are Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hildale, Utah; Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah; Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 17, of Cane Beds; and Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, both of Colorado City, Arizona, according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.  The only survivor of the crash, Nakita Timpson, 18, of Colorado City, was airlifted to the Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.  The accident, first report Wednesday at 4:43PM remains under investigation.  However, authorities believe the fatal rollover happened between 11:00PM and midnight Tuesday and that speed and alcohol may be possible factors in the fatal crash.  The Mohave County coroner's office is scheduled to conduct autopsies Monday.     See photo
 
 
Adult, 4 teens killed in Ariz. SUV crash
TriValley Central - Casa Grande, Arizona
Originally published Friday, March 9, 2012

KINGMAN (AP) — Mohave County authorities think an adult and four teens killed in a crash in rural Arizona were traveling at a high rate of speed when a Chevrolet Suburban they were in failed to negotiate a turn on a dirt road.  The crash happened in far northwest Arizona near the Utah border, authorities said.  The victims, identified as Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hildale, Utah; Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah; Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 17, of Cane Beds; and Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, both of Colorado City, died at the scene, said the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.  The lone survivor of the crash — Nakita Timpson, 18, of Colorado City — was taken to a Utah hospital.  Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene Wednesday afternoon about 17 miles south of Centennial Park, in a high desert area known as the Arizona Strip.  The crash might have happened sometime late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.  It remained under investigation and the sheriff's office said alcohol might have been a factor.  Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jim McCabe said the five may have been out celebrating Timpson's birthday when the crash happened.     Read more
 
 
Crash survivor 'doing better'
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Sunday, March 11, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The sole survivor of a crash that killed an adult and four teens in rural northwest Arizona was "doing better" at a Utah hospital, a family member said.  Dan Timpson told the Salt Lake Tribune that his 16-year-old daughter, Nakita Timpson of Colorado City, Ariz., was recovering at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.  He declined to comment on the extent of her injuries.  Timpson's 19-year-old son, Jamison Timpson of Colorado City, died in the SUV crash near the Utah border, along with three other teens and an adult.  Authorities in Mohave County said while they responded to the scene Wednesday afternoon near Colorado City, the crash might have happened sometime late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning.  The victims were riding in a Chevy Suburban when it failed to make a turn and rolled.  Investigators are looking at speed and alcohol as possible factors in the crash.  Stefanie Colgrove said she had been told that her 17-year-old daughter, Rachel Colgrove, of Cane Beds, Ariz., died instantly in the crash, but later found that wasn't the case when one of her children visited Nakita in the hospital.  Timpson said Rachel Colgrove was alive for hours after the accident, the mother said.  The two girls laid next to each other, holding each other and talking.  Also killed were Carl Holm, 22, of Hildale, Utah; Monica Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah; and Virgel Roundy, 15, of Colorado City.
 
 
Tragic accident
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published March 14, 2012

Any loss of life in a traffic accident is tragic.  Such incidents are even more devastating when young people are involved.  An accident that happened either late Tuesday or early Wednesday serves as an example of how quickly fun events can turn to tragedy.  At some point during that time period, a vehicle carrying five teenagers and an adult overturned at a curve on a dirt road.  Four of the teenagers and the adult were killed, and another person was seriously injured.  Authorities suspect alcohol may have been involved because of the location of the crash, about 17 miles south of Centennial Park, Ariz., and other factors.  That particular location is known to be an area where some residents go to conduct parties.  The investigation is ongoing, so there's no way to know yet if alcohol was a factor.  But regardless, the mere thought that it could have played a role in the crash should serve as a reminder to parents to have serious discussions with children about the dangers of alcohol and other substances in general and, in particular, how those substances become even more dangerous when a vehicle is involved.  While not everything is known about the crash, this much is certain: Families are hurting, facing intense pain over the loss of loved ones who were taken from this world at such young ages - from 15 to 22.     Read more
 
 
Fatal crash details released by Mohave County Sheriff's Office
Samantha Sadlier
The Spectrum
Originally published March 14, 2012

ST. GEORGE – The Mohave County Sheriff's Office has released more information regarding the vehicle rollover that killed four teens and one adult on March 6 indicating that one person who was fatally injured survived for hours before emergency responders arrived on scene.  Trish Carter, Mohave County Sheriff's Office Public Information officer, said the individual lived for a few hours prior to help responding.  The sixth person involved in the accident, Nakita Timpson, 16, of Colorado City, Ariz., is currently at Dixie Regional Medical Center where she remains in stable condition, Carter said.  Because the accident took place between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. on March 6, or early on March 7 about 20 miles South of Centennial Park, Ariz., it took hours before anyone realized the individuals involved in the accident had not arrived home, Carter said.  Reports from family and friends of the victims indicate a second vehicle and group of individuals were driving around with the vehicle involved in the accident late Tuesday night, but drove home unaware of the accident, Carter said.  The next day the others from the second vehicle were trying to reach out to their friends, but could not get a hold of them, she said.  "On Wednesday they started realizing that they hadn't come home, so they went out and retraced their steps until they found the accident and reported it," she said.     Read more
 
 
UPDATE: More Details Revealed in Fatal Rollover Near Arizona-Utah Border
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News
KCSG Television
Originally published March 14, 2012

(Centennial Park, AZ) - Mohave County Sheriff's deputies have determined the fatal single vehicle rollover last week that claimed five lives occurred late Tuesday evening, March 6, 2012 between 11:00PM and midnight.  The driver of the Chevrolet Suburban was Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22 of Hildale Utah.  It is unknown whether any of the occupants were wearing seat belts, according to the sheriff's office.  Mohave County corner's office conducted autopsies Monday, March 12 on the victims in the fatal crash that happened on Big Warren Road, approximately 17 miles south of Centennial Park.  The accident occurred following a birthday party for the sole survivor, Nakita Timpson, 16, of Colorado City who remains in stable condition at Dixie Regional Medical Center.  Toxicology results from the Arizona Department of Public Safety crime lab could take several weeks.  The Mohave County Sheriff's Office said the accident remains under investigation and alcohol may have been a factor.  Dead in the fatal rollover are Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hildale, Utah; Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah; Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 17, of Cane Beds; and Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, both of Colorado City, Arizona.     See photo
 
 
Monica Joy Bistline
Obituaries
The Spectrum
Originally published March 14, 2012

APPLE VALLEY - Monica Joy Bistline, 17 years old, passed away March 7, 2012.  She was born December 19, 1994 in Hildale UT, to Clayton James Bistline and Leannah Joy Pledger Jessop.  Monica grew up in the conjoined towns of Hildale, UT and Colorado City, AZ.  She attended El Capitan High School; she lived with her mother and step father in Apple Valley, UT.  Monica enjoyed hanging with friends, writing poetry, baking, babysitting her nieces and nephews, music, outdoor activities and putting a smile on everyone's faces!  Her interests where family, friends and BOYS!!!!  Monica was very spirited, so full of life and had a smile that could light up a room.  She lived her life to the fullest and lived every moment of her life whole heartedly like every minute was her last.  She is survived by her parents, Clayton and Shaunna Bistline, George and Leannah Jessop.  Monica is also survived by brothers and sisters, Clayton Jr, Ashlee, Jessica, Joshua, Sean, Kayden, Kyle, Ricky, Michelle, Suzie, Louis, Sarah, Jerry, Ada, Rulon, Tawni, Ryan, Nakita, Maria and Mckayla; and her grandmother, Hannah Pledger.  She is preceded in death by her grandparents, Lee Bistline, Elaine Bistline, Naomi Bistline, Leo Pledger and Tana Pledger.     Read more
 
 
Rachel Anne Colgrove
Obituaries
The Spectrum
Originally published March 14, 2012

CANE BEDS, Ariz. - Rachel Anne Colgrove, age 17, passed away March 7, 2012.  She was born August 7, 1994, in Colorado City, Arizona, to Bradford and Stefanie Williams Colgrove.  She is survived by her parents, Bradford and Stefanie of Cane Beds, AZ; siblings, Shad Barlow of Lackland Air Force Base, TX, Savanna Colgrove, Kyle Colgrove, Autumn Colgrove, Wyatt Colgrove and Josie Colgrove all of Cane Beds, AZ; grandparents, Roger and Anna Williams of Colorado City, AZ and Dan and Kathy Colgrove of Pahrump, NV.  Funeral services will be held Sunday, March 18, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. at the Centennial Park Chapel, Centennial Park, AZ.  There will be a viewing Saturday, March 17, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. and also Sunday, from 9:00 - 10:45 a.m. prior to services, both held in the Centennial Park Chapel.  Interment will take place in the Centennial Park Cemetery.  "People think they're in control, but they ain't. The truth is, that which must befall thee must befall thee. And that which must pass thee by must pass thee by."  (Homeless man in Ft. Worth, Texas)     Read more
 
 
FBI, S.L. County probe alleges fraud, sexual trysts in FLDS 'lost boys' program
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, March 14 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — Fraud, deceit, sexual trysts and an untimely death make up a sordid tale investigators say they uncovered among those who ran a government-funded shelter for "lost boys" of the polygamous FLDS Church.  A yearlong investigation by the FBI and the Salt Lake County Auditor's Office resulted in federal prosecutors going to a grand jury seeking criminal charges against Richard Parks, the county's AmeriCorps program administrator for the past eight years.  Parks, 64, of Salt Lake City, was indicted Wednesday on 25 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, making false statements and theft from a program receiving federal funds.  The indictment seeks $95,154 in restitution.  "It's an incredible story," said Jim Wightman, the county auditor's director of compliance and performance assessment.  "It's off the charts. It involves so many aspects of Utah culture."  Though the case doesn't involve huge sums of money, its tentacles reach the Utah Legislature, the Utah Attorney General's Office, Salt Lake County and St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who is accused of an Internet marketing scam.     Read more
 
 
 
Read the Indictment of Richard Parks regarding the investigation of AmeriCorps monies paid to run the "Lost Boys'" House Just Off of Bluff, filed in the US District Court of Utah on March 14, 2012
 
 
Read the Salt Lake County Auditor's Report to the Citizens of Salt Lake County, the Mayor, and the County Council about the Salt Lake County Community Resources and Development Division's AmeriCorps Program regarding the investigation of the "Lost Boys'" House Just Off Bluff, dated December, 2011
 
 
Jamison Holm Timpson
Obituaries
Spilsbury Mortuary - St. George, Utah
Originally published March 15, 2012

Jamison Holm Timpson
Mar 30, 1992 - Mar 06, 2012

Jamison Holm Timpson passed away March 6, 2012. He was born March 30, 1992 in Hildale, AZ to Dan Barlow Timpson and Florence Jennifer Holm.

Funeral services will be Friday March 16 at 2:00 p.m. in the Holm Sunday School Building, Hildale, UT. Viewings will be Thursday March 15 from 6-9 p.m. in the Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S. Bluff St., St. George, UT and on Friday March 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Holm Sunday School Building.

Arrangements are under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, St. George, UT (435) 673-2454. Family and friends are invited to sign his guest book at www.spilsburymortuary.com.
 
 
Funeral Listings
Spilsbury Mortuary - St. George, Utah
Originally published March 15, 2012

Virgil Roundy
Funeral Services: Thursday, March 15, at 3:00 p.m. at the Alton Town Hall, Alton, Utah.
Visitation: Thursday, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. prior to services at the Town Hall.


Carl Holm
Funeral Services: Friday, March 16, at 12:00 p.m. at the Spilsbury Mortuary Chapel, 110 S. Bluff St., St. George, UT.
Visitation: Friday, from 9:00 a.m. until time of service at the Mortuary.


Jamison Holm Timpson
Funeral Services: Friday, March 16, at 2:00 p.m. at the Holm Sunday School Building, Hildale, UT.
1st Visitation: Thursday, March 15, from 6-9 p.m. at the Spilsbury Mortuary Chapel, 110 S. Bluff St., St. George, UT.
2nd Visitation: Friday, March 16 from 12p.m. to 2:00p.m. at the Holm Sunday School Building, Hildale, UT.
Read more
 
 
Fourth Black Friday Payment Processor Chad Elie Pleads Guilty
By Nick Jones
Pokerfuse - Carpentersville, Illinois
Originally published March 26, 2012

On Monday, Chad Elie became the fourth of five payment processors to plead guilty to charges resulting from the indictments that were unsealed on Black Friday.  Facing numerous charges including violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA), Elie pled guilty to a single count of conspiracy and has agreed to turn over $500k in exchange for a sentence in the range of six to twelve months.  US District Judge Lewis Kaplan scheduled sentencing for October 3.  Elie is set to receive a lighter sentence than many of the payment processors that pled guilty before him.  Last month, Ryan Lang pled guilty to charges stemming from processing illegal transactions for poker companies.  He faces up to 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit tax fraud and money laundering, violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and accepting funds in connection with Internet gambling.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 24.  In January, Ira Rubin pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the UIGEA: "one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, and one count of money laundering conspiracy."  The maximum prison sentence Rubin faces 55 years, but the Stipulated Guideline Range set forth in the agreement is 18-24 months.  Sentencing for Rubin is scheduled for May 17.     Read more
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Order Re: First Omnibus Motion for Order: (1) Approving and Confirming Sales of Real and Personal Property and for Related Relief; and (2) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada April 3, 2012
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Motion and Motion for Order: (1) Approving and Authorizing Payment of Receiver's and Professionals' Fees and Expenses from April 1, 2011 Through January 31, 2012; and (2) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof; Declaration of Gary Owen Caris in Support Thereof; Declaration of Brick Kane in Support Thereof regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada April 4, 2012
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Motion and Second Omnibus Motion for Order: (1) Approving and Confirming Sales of Aircraft and for Related Relief, Including Sale Free and Clear of Liens; (2) Approving Compromise of Controversy with Far West Regarding EC135 Litigation; and (3) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof; Declaration of Kenton Johnson in Support Thereof regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada April 6, 2012
 
 
Ex-S.L. County administrator of FLDS 'lost boys' program pleads not guilty to fraud
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, April 12 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Salt Lake County administrator charged with fraud in connection with a program for "lost boys" of the polygamous FLDS Church pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday.  A grand jury last month indicted Richard M. Parks on 25 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, making false statements and theft from a program receiving federal funds.  The indictment seeks $95,154 in restitution.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Brooke Wells scheduled a seven-day jury trial to begin June 18.  Prosecutors did not seek to place Parks in custody, but Wells ordered him to surrender his passport.  He has no prior criminal convictions.  Parks, who turns 64 next week, is accused of falsifying time cards, overpaying workers and reimbursing himself for non-business trips while he worked as the county's AmeriCorps program administrator.  AmeriCorps, a national service organization, provided volunteers at a St. George safe house for young men fleeing the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Volunteers receive stipends for fulfilling the terms of their contracts.  Salt Lake County ran the program because Washington County did not have an AmeriCorps grant.     Read more
 
 
St. George auto dealer faces fraud charges
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published April 26, 2012

ST. GEORGE – A St. George auto dealer is scheduled to make his first appearance today in 5th District Court on fraud charges.  Todd L. Vowell, 44, one of the owners of Executive Car Sales Inc. on Bluff Street, was charged with two counts of communications fraud in February.  Court documents filed in conjunction with the charges do not explain the basis for the prosecution's decision to file charges against Vowell, however communications fraud is generally defined as a scheme to obtain money or anything else of value from another person by false pretenses, and then to try to conceal the scheme with another person's assistance.  Vowell is charged with second-degree felonies, which according to the criminal statute means the value of the alleged fraud exceeds $5,000 or that the alleged fraud was to obtain sensitive personal identification information.  Deputy County Attorney Jerry Jaeger did not provide specifics about the reason for filing the fraud charges, but said the basis of the charges is similar in nature to a complaint filed in a 5th District Court lawsuit two years ago in which a woman claimed Vowell and other Executive Car Sales officers enticed her to invest $600,000 in the auto dealership in 2008, then failed to abide by the promised terms of repayment.  The woman, Karen Grounds, named Vowell and dealership co-owners Jason Vowell and Rabbit Downward as defendants in the lawsuit, but Todd Vowell is the only one of the three facing criminal charges.     Read more
 
 
St. George auto dealer faces fraud charges
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published April 26, 2012

ST. GEORGE – A St. George auto dealer made his first appearance on fraud charges Thursday in 5th District Court.  Todd L. Vowell, 44, appeared with attorney Mica McKinney of Salt Lake City law firm Ray Quinney & Nebeker to acknowledge they had been informed of the charges and that Vowell has legal representation.  Vowell was charged with two counts of communications fraud in February.  On Thursday, Judge G. Rand Beacham scheduled a follow-up hearing for May 14 to ensure Vowell is getting access to the evidence against him and that his attorneys are prepared to proceed toward trial.  Court documents filed in the case do not explain the specific basis for the charges, however communications fraud is generally defined as a scheme to obtain money or anything else of value from another person by false pretenses, and then to try to conceal the scheme with another person's assistance.  Vowell is charged with second-degree felonies, which according to the criminal statute means the value of the alleged fraud exceeds $5,000 or that the alleged fraud was to obtain sensitive personal identification information.  Deputy County Attorney Jerry Jaeger said the alleged victim is a woman who filed a 5th District Court lawsuit two years ago against Vowell and other Executive Car Sales officers, and that the allegations in the criminal case are similar to those in the lawsuit.  In that lawsuit, a woman named Karen Grounds claimed Vowell and his brother Jason, as well as Executive Car Sales Manager Rabbit Downward, enticed her to invest $600,000 in the auto dealership in 2008, then failed to abide by the promised terms of repayment.     Read more
 
 
Alcohol cited in Arizona accident that killed five people
By Dave Hawkins
SPECIAL TO THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Originally published May 3, 2012

Alcohol was a factor in the March 6 traffic accident that claimed five lives in northern Arizona, according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.  Agency spokeswoman Trish Carter said toxicology test results indicate that the driver, 22-year-old Carl O. Holm, of Hildale, Utah, was impaired when the Chevrolet Suburban he was driving rolled on its top off a dirt road about 20 miles south of the Utah border.  Carter said his blood-alcohol level was 0.186 percent, a little more than twice the legal limit for driving a vehicle in Arizona.  Holm was dead at the scene of the accident as was 17-year-old Joy Bistline, of Apple Valley, Utah.  Arizona residents dead at the scene included Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 16, of Cane Beds; and Taylor Roundy, 15, and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, both of Colorado City.  The only survivor of the single-vehicle accident, Nakita Timpson, 16, of Colorado City, was treated for her injuries at a hospital in St. George.  Sheriff's Deputy Jim McCabe said investigators believe the victims had been celebrating Timpson's birthday before the crash.
 
 
Driver in Arizona crash that killed 5 youths was drunk, officials say
by Cassondra Strande
The Arizona Republic
Originally published May 3, 2012

The driver of an SUV that rolled over near Colorado City and killed five youths in March was intoxicated, according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.  Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hilldale, Utah, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.186 percent at the time of the incident, according to the Sheriff's Office.  The vehicle rolled over at 11 p.m. March 6.  Five people were ejected from the vehicle, and one was trapped inside, according to MCSO.  Monica Joy Bistline, 17, of Apple Valley, Utah; Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm, 22, of Hilldale, Utah; Rachel Anne Kolgrove, 17, of Cane Beds; Virgel Taylor Roundy, 15, of Colorado City; and Jamison Holm Timpson, 19, of Colorado City died at the scene, according to Sheriff's Office.  Nakita Timpson, 18, of Colorado City, was the only one who survived.  She was trapped inside of the vehicle when Mohave County Sheriff's deputies found the SUV the next afternoon, according to the Sheriff's Office.  Beer cans were found around the vehicle, according to MCSO.
 
 
Arizona Sheriff: Driver in crash that killed 5 drunk
The Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, May 3 2012

KINGMAN, Ariz. — Authorities say a 22-year-old Hildale, Utah, man was driving drunk when his SUV crashed in a remote part of northern Arizona in March, killing the driver and 4 teens.  The Mohave County, Ariz., sheriff's office said Thursday that an autopsy showed 22-year-old Carl Otto Nathaniel Holm had a blood alcohol level of nearly .19 percent.  That's more than twice the legal limit in Arizona.  The five were speeding in a Chevrolet Suburban when Holm failed to negotiate a turn on a dirt road.  Two teenage boys and two teen girls also died in the crash.  They were from Colorado City and Cane Beds, Ariz., and Apple Valley, Utah.  An 18-year-old Colorado City woman survived.  Sheriff's officials say the five may have been out celebrating a birthday when the crash happened.
 
 
Read the Mohave County Sheriff's Office Press Release on the fatal accident
 
 
Authorities say driver drunk in fatal accident
Erin Taylor
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published May 4, 2012

KINGMAN - Authorities said this week that the driver of the car that rolled over in March killing five young people in the Colorado City area had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.  The Mohave County Sheriff's Office handled investigation of the fatal accident, which occurred overnight March 6 while the six youths were reportedly celebrating the 18th birthday of Nakita Timpson.  Timpson was the only person to survive the accident.  Sheriff's Spokeswoman Trish Carter said the driver, 22-year-old Nathaniel Holm, of Hilldale, Utah, had a blood alcohol level of .186 percent.  The Colorado City/Hilldale area is home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which was led by Warren Jeffs until he was incarcerated in 2006 for the sexual abuse of underage girls.  The six youths involved in the accident were reportedly a mix of former and non-members of the church.  Footage from the accident showed beer cans scattered around the scene.  Authorities believe the Chevrolet Suburban failed to negotiate a turn, went airborne and rolled at least once, throwing many of the victims from the car.  High winds, which would have reduced visibility in the desert that night, are also said to have contributed to the accident.
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Order: (1) Approving and Authorizing Payment of Receiver's and Professionals' Fees and Expenses from April 1, 2011 Through January 31, 2012; and (2) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada May 16, 2012
 
 
Student goes from dropout to Dixie High graduate
David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published May 29, 2012

ST. GEORGE - In 5th grade, Enoch Barlow, then living in Colorado City, had to drop out of school and start working, and wasn't able to start classes again until he was nearly 17.  But there he was last week, just two years later, draped in a blue cap and gown and joining his Dixie High School classmates for graduation.  "It was pretty exciting, but I was pretty tired at the same time," Barlow said of somehow working his way to 28 credits and earning his diploma in just two years, all while working part time and often staying on friends' couches.  It took perseverance and huge effort - his counselor said he didn't miss a day of night school or summer school - but Barlow said all the work was worth it.  And in the end, he'd achieved a goal few thought possible - he walked on graduation day with his own class.  "A lot of people were saying I couldn't do it and that just pushed me to do it more," he said.  Lisa Mitchell, guidance counselor at DHS, said it has been an inspirational story.  Barlow simply walked in, asked what it would take to graduate and then set to work.  "He never missed an opportunity to further his education," she said, pointing out that by the time he graduated, Barlow was on the high honor roll with a 3.9 GPA and finished with the highest end-of-level test score in biology in the entire school.     Read more
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Motion and Motion for Order Clarifying Preliminary Injunction Order and for Further Instructions Regarding Scope of Receivership Defendants Under Preliminary Injunction Order and Report of Receiver's Financial Reconstruction and Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof; Declaration of Gary Owen Caris in Support Thereof; Declaration of Brick Kane in Support Thereof regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada May 30, 2012
 
 
Auto dealer appears in district court on fraud charges
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published June 21, 2012

ST. GEORGE - A St. George auto dealer accused of participating in a plan to obtain investments for his former business through fraudulent promises made his initial appearance on felony charges Thursday in 5th District Court.  Rabbit Downward, 41, the owner of Executive Auto Group Inc., appeared with his attorney Alan Boyack to answer a summons on two counts of communications fraud.  Court documents filed in the case do not explain the specific basis for the charges; however, communications fraud is generally defined as a scheme to obtain money or anything else of value from another person by false pretenses, and then to try to conceal the scheme with another person's assistance.  Deputy County Attorney Jerry Jaeger said the circumstances mirror those leading to similar charges earlier this year against St. George resident Todd Vowell, who owned the business on North Bluff Street when it was named Executive Car Sales Inc.  Downward told The Spectrum in May that Executive Auto replaced Executive Car Sales in 2009 and that Vowell has not been involved with the business since then.  "Executive Auto Group has nothing to do with Executive Car Sales," Downward said.     Read more
 
 
Former St. George banker gets 3 months in poker case
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published June 27, 2012

NEW YORK – A St. George banker has been sentenced to three months in prison for his role in an Internet poker prosecution that shut down the U.S. operations of three card-dealing companies.  John Campos was sentenced Wednesday in Manhattan.  The former St. George banker pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor bank gambling charge.  Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan said Campos did not make much money personally but still engaged in a greed-driven crime.  Campos did not speak before the sentence was imposed.  He admitted that he processed $200 million in gambling proceeds since late 2009 while he was vice chairman of the SunFirst Bank's board of directors.  Campos said his processing of the gambling proceeds for PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker was not in return for a $10 million investment in the bank.
 
 
Three Months in Prison for Black Friday Banker John Campos
Judge Kaplan hands down the first sentence to an individual involved in US payment processing for online poker sites.
By Michael Gentile
Pokerfuse - Carpentersville, Illinois
Originally published June 27, 2012

District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan handed down a sentence of three months in prison for former Vice Chairman of the Board and part owner of now defunct SunFirst Bank for his role in processing illegal transactions from online poker sites.  Campos admitted to processing over $200m in transactions related to online gambling, but was able to strike a deal with the prosecution.  Kaplan originally questioned the deal — asking the prosecutors "You're basically walking away from the prosecution?" — and requested that such leniency be justified in writing.  The prosecution defended its position, claiming Campos could receive a similar sentence with a misdemeanor charge as he would with a single felony.  Less than a month later Kaplan accepted the deal.  The plea deal was made soon after the announcement that Daniel Tzvetkoff was set to testify on behalf of the prosecution in a trial billed as "Poker's Day in Court."  In total, five individuals have plead guilty to charges involving illegal payment processing for online poker sites in the Black Friday trials.  Chad Elie worked as a payment processor for online poker sites, facilitating transactions between SunFirst bank, poker players, and poker rooms including PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.  Both he and Campos were charged with numerous offenses including violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA), money laundering, and operating an illegal gambling business.  Elie pleaded guilty in March and sentencing is expected in October.     Read more
 
 
5 attorneys nominated for upcoming 3rd District judicial vacancy
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, Aug. 1 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — Five attorneys have been nominated to fill an upcoming opening on the 3rd District Court bench.  The vacancy will be left when Judge William Barrett's retirement goes into effect Nov. 1.  Patricia Cassell, Paul Parker and Michael Postma, all of the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office; Gregory Hoole, a partner at Hoole & King; and Barry Lawrence, of the Utah Attorney General's Office, have all received nominations.  Written comments on the nominations can be sent to 3rd District Judicial Nominating Commission Chair Deirdre Straight, Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, P.O. Box 142330, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-2330.  Written comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Aug. 10.  The nominating commission may conduct an investigation or request additional information of the nominees after reviewing the public comments.  After the public comment period is closed, the names will be sent to Gov. Gary Herbert, who will then have 30 days to make an appointment.  The governor's appointee will be subject to confirmation by the Utah Senate.  The 3rd Judicial District includes Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele counties.
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Motion and Motion for Order: (1) Approving and Confirming Sales of Real Property and for Related Relief; (2) Authorizing Receiver to Abandon PEPS I Houseboat; and (3) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof; Declaration of Kenton Johnson in Support Thereof regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada August 10, 2012
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Motion and Motion for Order: (1) Approving and Authorizing Payment of Receiver's and Professionals' Fees and Expenses from February 1, 2012 Through May 31, 2012; and (2) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof; Declaration of Gary Owen Caris in Support Thereof; Declaration of Brick Kane in Support Thereof regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada August 22, 2012
 
 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Third Omnibus Motion and Third Omnibus Motion for Order: (1) Approving and Confirming Sales of Aircraft and for Related Relief; (2) Authorizing Receiver to List and Offer for Sale Aircraft; and (3) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors; Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support Thereof; Declaration of Kenton Johnson in Support Thereof regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada August 28, 2012
 
 
Read the U.S District Court of Nevada's Order: (1) Approving and Confirming Sales of Real Property and for Related Relief; (2) Authorizing Receiver to Abandon PEPS I Houseboat; and (3) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors Filed September 10, 2012 regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada September 10, 2012
 
 
Chad Elie Sentenced to Five Months for Black Friday Crimes
By Dave Ferrara
Pokerfuse - Carpentersville, Illinois
Originally published October 4, 2012

Payment processor Chad Elie was sentenced Wednesday to five months in federal prison as a result of charges he faced in the Black Friday indictments.  The 32-year-old pleaded guilty in March to a single count of conspiracy and agreed to pay $500k in exchange for his sentence.  In handing down the sentence, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Elie "really didn't care whether what he was doing was legal."  "He was in a sense playing a game with the government, a catch-me-if-you-can kind of game," Kaplan said, according to a report from Bloomberg.  "That just can't be overlooked."  Elie, of Las Vegas, addressed the court before being sentenced.  "I'd just like to apologize to my family and friends for the pain and disappointment I caused them and ask for their forgiveness," he said.  Elie was among 11 men indicted on Black Friday. Six others — Nelson Burtnick, John Campos, Brent Beckley, Ira Rubin, Bradley Franzen, and Ryan Lang — have pleaded guilty to criminal charges, while Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar has pleaded not guilty.  The government settled lawsuits with PokerStars and Full Tilt in July and prosecutors said US Full Tilt players would be able to seek compensation from the Justice Department.  But no further details have been released on how and when those funds would be made available.
 
 
Chad Elie Twitter Appearance Draws Attention
By Haley Hintze
Pokerfuse - Carpentersville, Illinois
Originally published November 5, 2012

A surprise appearance by Black Friday indictee Chad Elie on Twitter, accompanied by a smattering of documentation hinting at tantalizing industry links, has many industry watchers clamoring for more information.  Elie, who is scheduled to report to prison in early 2013 for his role in processing payments between banks and US-facing online poker sites PokerStars and Full Tilt, appeared without advance notice on Twitter over the past weekend.  Though his identity remains officially unconfirmed, the documents and pictures linked to Elie's presumed "@BlackFridayChad" Twitter account appear unlikely to be the work of an imposter.  Several independent sources, including this writer and the British author of an upcoming book on Black Friday, James Leighton, confirm the authenticity of several of the accountholder's statements [update: Journalist "Diamond Flush" has also since confirmed that the account is real].  Documents released so far include a personal photo of Elie with Nevada Senator Harry Reid and a partially redacted letter featuring an online-payment-processing legal conversation that included prominent poker attorney Tom Goldstein.     Read more
 
 
Chad Elie, Jeremy Johnson and SunFirst Bank: The Black Friday Connection
A chance meeting between between Chad Elie and telemarketing fraudster Jeremy Johnson triggered events leading to Black Friday.
By Haley Hintze
Pokerfuse - Carpentersville, Illinois
Originally published November 8, 2012

The April 2011 "Black Friday" crackdown against several US-facing poker sites has its beginnings in a chance meeting between payment-processor Chad Elie and noted telemarketing fraudster Jeremy Johnson.  The roles of Johnson and brothers Todd and Jason Vowell in the payment-processing schemes channeled through SunFirst have, to date, been largely underreported throughout the poker world.  Documents and information recently obtained by pokerfuse paint a surprising new picture of the SunFirst Bank activities whose payment processing on behalf of US-facing online poker sites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker made up the core of the "Black Friday" allegations.  Court records indicate that Johnson and Black Friday defendant Chad Elie met at an online marketing symposium at the Wynn, introduced by in-common friends several months before the two agreed to work together to form Elite Debit, the processing company at the core of the Black Friday crackdown.  Elie needed to find US banking connections with the ability to process online poker transactions.  Johnson, in turn, had a bank—the SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah, at the heart of the Black Friday charges.  A January 2012 financial reconstruction of Johnson's telemarketing empire prepared by Robb Evans & Associates LLC, buttressed by a mountain of court-authorized subpoenas, shines light on the cozy Johnson/SunFirst relationship.  According to the report, bank employees quipped that they worked for "The Bank of Jeremy Johnson," and the forensic accounting trail shows that Johnson acquired at least a 19% stake in SunFirst while using third parties as owners of record, to hide his interest from reporting requirements.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson's Asset Stash Funded with Online Poker Processing Proceeds
Utah multimillionaire targeted in FTC probe used online poker operations to help launder assets.
By Haley Hintze
Pokerfuse - Carpentersville, Illinois
Originally published November 9, 2012

One of the unexplained stories connected with the United States' "Black Friday" crackdown against US-facing online poker sites PokerStars and Full Tilt, as funneled through the now-shuttered St. George, UT SunFirst Bank, is an accounting of how most of the profits from the operation went into the pockets of alleged Utah telemarketing fraudster Jeremy Johnson.  Court records show $46.5 million in gross profits were generated via the processing through SunFirst from more than $180 million in deposits and withdrawals between US-based players and PokerStars and Full Tilt between November of 2009 and April of 2011, when the Black Friday indictments were released.  Additional documents and testimony show that Chad Elie, who represented the interests of Stars (and later Full Tilt), co-founded Elite Debit with Johnson in October of 2009.  Elie and Johnson were to split the processing proceeds 50/50, with Johnson and his business associates handling much of the paperwork required to bring the SunFirst operation on board.  Instead, it appears that Johnson retained most of the proceeds for himself and his cohorts.  In a 2010 legal action funded by Stars and Tilt, Elie alleged that Johnson and his associates, including Jason and Todd Vowell and Scott Leavitt, conspired to defraud Elie by preparing duplicate sets of financial records, with those provided to Elie asserting that most of the $46.5 million in actual gross profits was instead absorbed by operational expenses, which were actually a negligible part of the operation.     Read more
 
 
Full Tilt Deposit Backlog Traced to December '10 FDIC Banking Order
FDIC court order required SunFirst to stop processing for "third-party" poker entities.
By Haley Hintze
Pokerfuse - Carpentersville, Illinois
Originally published November 16, 2012

Court documents recently obtained by pokerfuse show that the string of events leading to the "Black Friday" crackdown against US-facing sites Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars began with a December 2010 regulatory order issued not by the Department of Justice, but by the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC).  The FDIC, which maintains regulatory oversight of United States banks, ordered the SunFirst Bank of St. George, Utah, to stop processing deposits and withdrawals for several corporate entities connected to Elite Debit.  Elite was the umbrella entity co-founded by Black Friday defendant Chad Elie and Jeremy Johnson, the Utah telemarketer targeted by the Federal Trade Commission in a $275m action.  The FDIC court order was drafted in November of 2010 and agreed to by SunFirst officers the following month, signed off on the same day the FTC filed its action against Johnson, much of the finances being funneled through other SunFirst accounts.  However, it was the agreement between the FDIC and SunFirst that turned off the spigot on the processing for Full Tilt and PokerStars, leading directly to the $134m backlog of uncleared deposits which subsequently accrued to Full Tilt's American players, and helped cause the company's downfall.  The collected documents indicate that the Black Friday indictments were the Department of Justice's portion of a multi-agency effort that began with Johnson's fraudulent IWorks telemarketing empire but soon ensnared US-facing online poker firms as well, including the DOJ, FTC and FDIC.     Read more
 
 
Jeremy Johnson's fraud case going to trial
Written by Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 11, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — A plea agreement for St. George businessman, Jeremy Johnson, accused of running a $350 million fraud scheme through his company, fell apart Friday in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.  Federal prosecutors initially charged 37-year-old Johnson with mail fraud related to his Internet-based business operations.  Johnson was set to enter a guilty plea Friday to two additional charges of bank fraud and money laundering as part of an agreement with the government.  But the agreement fell apart after Johnson and prosecutors disagreed over the terms and a list of people that Johnson wanted to ensure would not be prosecuted.  Johnson instead decided to maintain his not guilty plea and the case is set to go to trial.  After a court hearing Friday, Johnson said he wanted a chance to prove his innocence in court.  If convicted, he could face decades in prison.  Prosecutors on Friday said they plan to file a new indictment in the case within a month, but would not comment on whether other people besides Johnson would be charged.  Prosecutors allege that Johnson's company, iWorks, sent software to consumers for a supposedly risk-free trial but billed them anyway.  The company mailed consumers CDs that contained information about government grants for personal, business and education expenses, prosecutors have said.  The Federal Trade Commission has also filed a civil suit against Johnson and nine business associates in Las Vegas.     Read more
 
 
Read the Declaration of Scott Leavitt regarding Utah AG John Swallow's involvement in the Jeremy Johnson fraud case - dated November 27, 2012
 
 
Read the Declaration of Richard Rawle regarding Utah AG John Swallow's involvement in the Jeremy Johnson fraud case - dated December 5, 2012
 
 
Southern Utah Businessman Jeremy Johnson Charged With Bank Fraud
by Morgan Skinner
KCSG News
Originally published January 13, 2013

(Salt Lake City, UT) – New criminal charges were filed in federal court Friday against southern Utah businessman Jeremy D. Johnson by the Utah US Attorney's Office.  The new allegations accuse the defendant of bank fraud, money laundering and aiding and abetting.  The latest action came as Johnson appeared before Judge David Nuffer on a single count indictment of alleged mail fraud.  During the hearing, Johnson started to read a statement into the record when his lawyer, Nathan Crane, asked for a recess to talk with his client.  Part of the plea agreement required Johnson to plead guilty to the two felony charges of which he said he was not guilty and in exchange the government was to cease nvestigation and threats of prosecution against Johnson's family, friends and business associates.  When the court reconvened, Johnson withdrew his plea.  The prosecution asked for six-week prepation time and said more indictments would be forthcoming.  The Court set February 8 for the government to produce additional indictments and set February 22 for a status report and conference on a trial date.  In the latest federal allegation, Johnson is accused of two felony counts; one of which according to court records occurred between January 1, 2009 and January 1, 2011 in which he is accused of devising a scheme to defraud Wells Fargo Bank, N. A., a financial institution insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, to obtain moneys, credits, or other property of the bank by means of materially fraudulent representations.  Johnson is accused of causing a fraudulent merchant bank application to be prepared and submitted to Wells Fargo Bank on August 18, 2009 in the name of M.L.H. for the purpose of carrying out credit card transactions over the Internet for Funding Search Success, Inc.     Read more
 
 
Read Utah AG John Swallow's Letter denying any involvement in the Jeremy Johnson fraud case - dated January 14, 2013
 
 
FTC aims to add Jeremy Johnson's family to case
Feds say family, companies illegally received funds
Written by David DeMille
The Spectrum
Originally published January 23, 2013

ST. GEORGE — The Federal Trade Commission is asking a federal court for permission to charge St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson's wife and parents as part of its case against Johnson for allegedly running an internet scheme that bilked consumers out of more than $275 million.  The FTC alleges in a press release that Johnson's wife, Sharla, and his parents, Barbara and Kerry Johnson, along with five other Johnson-related companies, illegally received $22 million in funds, property and assets, including about $2.6 million worth of silver and the 20,000-square foot home in St. George where Johnson and his wife lived.  They were not charged with participating in Johnson's online enterprise, but the FTC alleges that they received a series of "ill-gotten" gains, including:
  • Sharla Johnson allegedly getting $5 million in funds and property, including the St. George mansion and a $3.1 million home equity line of credit.

  • Kerry Johnson allegedly getting at least $1.6 million, including about $1 million worth of silver coins and bars.

  • Barbara Johnson allegedly getting at least $77,500.

  • Orange Cat Investments allegedly getting at least $5.1 million.

  • Zibby, a company, allegedly getting more than $13 million.

  • Zibby Flight Service allegedly getting at least $2.5 million.

  • KV Electric allegedly getting more than $800,000.

  • KB Family Limited Partnership allegedly getting at least $1.75 million.
    Read more
 
 
Johnson not getting due process of law
Letters to the Editor
The Spectrum
Originally published February 9, 2013

I have watched with interest the FTC cases against Jeremy Johnson, partly because I am acquainted with his family and know them to be good, honorable people. Up until now he hasn't been to trial with the civil or criminal cases against him. He has not yet had "due process"!

The government has seized all known assets and caused much of this property to be sold. Then after he rejected a plea deal on the criminal case, the FTC named family members and attached dollar amounts to each person and company named in a press release.

Can the FTC now without due process also go after his family?

If the FTC loses the civil case will the taxpayers be on the hook to restore his property? Punitive damages?

Could the government have arrested Jeremy on criminal charges of mail fraud if his company had used UPS or Fed Ex to send the data disc?

Does our federal government have any limitations to its power?

I believe that our federal government is out of control and needs to be fixed!

David Jeppson
Santa Clara
 
 
FTC targets St. George residents
Complaint vs. Sunyiches focuses on online billing
Written by Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published February 24, 2013

ST. GEORGE — Federal officials have filed a civil complaint in Las Vegas against St. George residents accused of falsely billing consumers' credit cards for millions of dollars in services the consumers had not requested.  The Federal Trade Commission complaint alleges Ideal Financial Solutions, a Nevada company that established a call center in St. George to handle customer complaints, used an intricate web of ever-changing companies to target the credit cards and bank accounts of people who had applied for payday loans.  It was initially filed under seal last month.  The FTC claims Ideal Financial Solutions pays "considerable sums" to buy the financial information of third-party payday loan centers, and uses the financial information to debit the unsuspecting consumers" bank accounts and charge their credit cards, "usually for about $30."  Consumers who disputed the charges were reportedly told they had purchased something, such as financial counseling, loan matching services or assistance in completing a payday loan application.  The FTC complaint identifies St. George residents Steven Leon Sunyich, 58, and his children Michael Edwin Sunyich, 38, Christopher T. Sunyich, 32, Shawn S. Sunyich, 41, and Melissa Joy (Sunyich) Gardner, age unknown, as affiliated officers of the company or the business entities connected to the alleged scheme.  It also names Kent Brown, the chief operating officer of companies Ideal Financial Solutions, Bracknell Shore and Ascot Crossing, as a defendant, along with those companies and companies named Chandon Group, Avanix and Fiscal Fitness.  The phone number listed for Steven Sunyich has been disconnected.  The FTC's action is reminiscent of its Las Vegas federal lawsuit against St. George businessman and philanthropist Jeremy Johnson, who was targeted by the FTC for alleged fraudulent billing practices related to his Internet-based company iWorks.     Read more
 
 
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Read the Superseding Indictment bringing 86 additional charges against Jeremy Johnson, filed in the US District Court of Utah on March 6, 2013
 

 
Read the Defendants' second email to U.S. Attorney David Barlow in the Jeremy Johnson Internet fraud case, dated March 4, 2013
 

 
Read the Defendants' email to U.S. Attorney David Barlow in the Jeremy Johnson Internet fraud case, dated January 25, 2013
 

 
Read the US Attorney's Motion for an Order Pursuant to DUCrimR 57-6 requesting a gag order against Jeremy Johnson, filed in the Third District Court in Salt Lake City January 18, 2013
 

 
Read the law firm of Snow, Christensen & Martineau's Press Release regarding the services provided by RMR Consulting to Jeremy Johnson in his FTC fraud case - dated January 18, 2013
 

 
Read the U.S District Court of Nevada's Order: (1) Approving and Confirming Sales of Real Property and for Related Relief; (2) Authorizing Receiver to Abandon PEPS I Houseboat; and (3) Granting Relief from Local Rule 66-5 Pertaining to Notice to Creditors Filed September 10, 2012 regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the U.S District Court of Nevada September 10, 2012
 

 
Read the Indictment of Richard Parks regarding the investigation of AmeriCorps monies paid to run the "Lost Boys'" House Just Off of Bluff, filed in the US District Court of Utah on March 14, 2012
 

 
Read the Salt Lake County Auditor's Report to the Citizens of Salt Lake County, the Mayor, and the County Council about the Salt Lake County Community Resources and Development Division's AmeriCorps Program regarding the investigation of the "Lost Boys'" House Just Off Bluff, dated December, 2011
 

 
Read the Mohave County Sheriff's Office Press Release regarding the death of 4 teenagers and one adult in a vehicle rollover accident near Centennial Park, dated March 8, 2012
 

 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Report of Receiver's Financial Reconstruction Activities as of January 31, 2012 regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed February 3, 2012
 

 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Report of Receiver's Financial Reconstruction Activities as of January 31, 2012 - Volume 1 of Exhibits (Tabs) 1 through 33 regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed February 3, 2012
 

 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Report of Receiver's Financial Reconstruction Activities as of January 31, 2012 - Volume 2 of Exhibits (Tabs) 34 through 59 regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed February 3, 2012
 

 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Report of Receiver's Financial Reconstruction Activities as of January 31, 2012 - Volume 3 of Exhibits (Tabs) 60 through 85 regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed February 3, 2012
 

 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Report of Receiver's Financial Reconstruction Activities as of January 31, 2012 - Volume 4 of Exhibits (Tabs) 86 through 105 regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed February 3, 2012
 

 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Notice of Motion and Motion for Order Compelling Turnover of Aircraft, Related Documentation and Vehicle to Receiver Pursuant to Preliminary Injunction Order; Memorandum of Points and Authorities and Declaration of Gary Owen Caris in Support Thereof; Declaration of Kenton Johnson in Support Thereof regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the US District Court of Nevada on December 30, 2011
 

 
Read FTC receiver Robb Evans' Receiver's Emergency Motion for Order Compelling Jeremy Johnson and Others to Comply with Preliminary Injunction Order by Disabling Improper Web Site; Memorandum of Points and Authorities and Declaration of Gary Owen Caris in Support Thereof regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the US District Court of Nevada on December 14, 2011
 

 
Read the FTC's Joint Stipulated Motion by the FTC and Powder Monkeys, LLC for Powder Monkeys, LLC to Transfer $99,883 to the Receiver to be Held in Escrow regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the US District Court of Nevada on August 11, 2011
 

 
Read the Search Warrant regarding Jeremy Johnson, filed in the US District Court of Utah on July 22, 2011
 

 
Watch the trailer of the "Sons of Perdition" documentary

 

 
Watch the April 23, 2010 NBC News story
about the "Sons of Perdition" documentary

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.

 

 
Watch the documentary Banished: The Lost Boys of Polygamy
 

 
Read the "Lost Boys'" Original Interested Individuals' Recommended Action Regarding Continuing and Proliferating Litigation regarding the UEP Trust, dated January 14, 2010
 

 
Read the Press Release by 6 of the "Lost Boys" who filed suit against Warren Jeffs and the FLDS church released March, 2008
 

 


Watch the Banished documentary trailer
 

 


Watch the Colorado City and the Underground Railroad
documentary trailer discussing the FLDS Lost Boys
 
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