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Polygamous trust giving homes to 26 people

First Published Aug 09 2014 02:05PM      Last Updated Aug 10 2014 10:25 am

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) UEP fiduciary Bruce Wisan gathers his thoughts while people are still arriving, prior to a meeting held at Mohave Community College in Colorado City to discuss the UEP distribution, Saturday, August 9, 2014.

Colorado City, Ariz. • The fiduciary in charge of a polygamous community trust says the board is ready to give homes to 26 people, but a Utah judge will likely have to maintain control over the trust for "the next several years."

The judge will have to maintain control because no one is willing to provide affordable liability insurance to a governing board that many hoped would be able to take control of the United Effort Plan, the trust that holds most of the homes and commercial property here and in adjoining Hildale, Utah.

The fiduciary, Bruce Wisan, said without insurance for the trust, those sitting on a governing board could have their own assets at risk if someone sues the board for decisions it makes.



Wisan said he has searched for insurance. The only quote he could get offered $1 million of coverage — with a $250,000 deductible — for an annual premium of $113,000.

If a judge continues oversight of the UEP, however, decisions about how to distribute properties would be immune from lawsuits.

"For the next several years, a judge will have to be supervising the trust," Wisan said here at the first of two community meetings held Saturday.

UEP has about 750 homes and another couple of hundred residential lots.

Hildale and Colorado City are home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The state of Utah seized the trust in 2005 over concerns FLDS President Warren Jeffs was mismanaging the trust and people could lose their homes. (Jeffs was convicted in 2011 in Texas of child sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault and is serving a life prison sentence.)

Judge Denise Lindberg, of Utah’s 3rd District Court, has overseen the UEP since then, but she is scheduled to retire later this year and a new judge will be assigned.

Wisan spoke Saturday at a public meeting at Mohave County, Ariz., Community College in the morning and in the evening El Capitan School to discuss the latest issues facing the UEP. It was the first time he addressed an audience since he was charged Tuesday in Taylorsville Justice Court with a misdemeanor count of patronizing a prostitute. Wisan has pleaded not guilty.

Wisan referenced the issue at the opening of the morning meeting.

"I’m not sure if I’ll resign," he told about 90 people crammed into a classroom. "The judge may replace me. That’s a possibility. Or she may use these motives to appoint a board of trustees."

The 22 men and four women receiving homes live in Hildale, which has been subdivided. Wisan said they are considered "no brainer" cases because the residents either built their homes or lived in their homes for many years and there are no other legitimate claims to the properties.

The 26 have been cooperating with Wisan, at least recently. They include Jethro Barlow, an accountant who has been one of Wisan’s representatives in Hildale and Colorado City; and Willie Jessop, a former Jeffs bodyguard and confidant who in the last year began providing information to help the UEP defend lawsuits and regain water rights Jessop once helped transfer from the trust.

The 26 will still have to pay a transfer fee of $6,534 per acre and pay any back fees and taxes. The transfer fee, Wisan said, is to pay UEP costs.

The homes can be distributed within a month if Lindberg approves the plan and the fees are paid, Wisan said.

It will be the first major dissemination of homes since Utah seized the trust, though Wisan has sold some commercial and agricultural properties.

No homes are being distributed in Colorado City largely because the properties there have not yet been subdivided. Entire town blocks are listed as one parcel at the county recorder’s office.

 

 

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AT A GLANCE

UEP home distribution: Sheet 1

Address City State First Last

1280 N. Canyon Hildale Utah John W. Barlow

350 W. Uzona Hildale Utah Merril Harker

675 N. Lauritzen Hildale Utah Michael Pipkin

725 N. Lauritzen Hildale Utah Kathryn & Erlene Cox

325 W. Field Hildale Utah Hazel Zitting

745 N. Lauritzen Hildale Utah Nelda Johnson

345 W. Utah Hildale Utah Craig Bateman

745 N. Richard Hildale Utah James A. Cox

940 N. Hildale Hildale Utah Spencer Johnson

360 E. Utah Hildale Utah David Cook

930 N. Memorial Hildale Utah Ron Rohbock

1045 N. Carling Hildale Utah L. James Barlow

1025 N. Carling Hildale Utah George Hammon

1085 N. Canyon Hildale Utah Jethro Barlow

725 N. Hammon Hildale Utah E. Paul Jessop

265 W. Utah Hildale Utah Robert Williams

290 W. Field Hildale Utah Thomas V. Barlow

950 N. Canyon Hildale Utah Charles S. Johnson

980 N. Canyon Hildale Utah Spencer Johnson

1080 N. Canyon Hildale Utah Diane Williams

525 W. Field Hildale Utah Willie Jessop

660 N. Willow Hildale Utah Andrew G. Chatwin

640 N. Oak Hildale Utah Lester Johnson

845 N. Oak Hildale Utah Lee Steed

620 W. Uzona Hildale Utah Leroy Steed

920 N. Pinion Hildale Utah Bygnal Dutson Jr.