Washington County officials plan to auction a sprawling compound belonging to Warren Jeffs' family to pay a judgment to a former spokesman for the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The April 25 auction will allow the public to bid on the multibuilding complex in Hildale that property records show sits on 6.1 acres and has a market value of $2.65 million. The sale is designed to raise money for a judgment obtained by Willie Jessop.
Jessop sued FLDS leaders, including Jeffs and his brother Lyle Jeffs alleging they arranged a late-night break-in at his business, R&W Excavating. Jessop argued that during the break-in several people stole computers, hard drives and other property.
The FLDS leaders failed to respond to the lawsuit and a 5th District judge awarded Jessop and his businesses about $30 million in a default judgment.
Jessop's attorney, Mark James, said Jessop could make a "credit bid" on the property himself. That means he can use all or part of the amount of the judgment to bid for the property and take possession of it. James did not know how much Jessop would be willing to bid.
But if Jessop places the winning bid he becomes the owner of the property and his judgment is reduced by whatever he offered. The auction will be on the steps of the Washington County Courthouse in St. George.
Jessop could not immediately be reached to comment.
The compound at the corner of Utah Avenue and Carling Street is one of the privately held properties in Hildale and its twin town of Colorado City, Ariz. Most other real estate in the towns reside in a trust currently managed by the state of Utah.
The property was constructed in 2010 and 2011 while Jeffs was awaiting trial in Texas, and residents have said it was built to house Jeffs and his wives and family after his acquittal or release from custody. Instead, Jeffs was convicted in 2011 of child sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault and was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.
The compound is a prominent feature in Hildale and Colorado City. Situated near the Holm Sunday School and the FLDS clinic, it is surrounded by an imposing white wall. The walls are about 12 feet tall. From a nearby hill, three sprawling, brick-sided homes are visible inside.
During a recent visit to the area, journalists from The Salt Lake Tribune did not see anyone go in or out.