Feds accuse concrete company of child labor abuses with polygamist kids

This file photo shows a young girl of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, September 2015 | Inset image by Albert Floyd/iStock/Getty Images Plus; photo by Michael Durrant, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Federal labor lawyers have filed another child labor case against a Utah-based company tied to a polygamous group alleging underage laborers were put to work for long hours for little pay in dangerous conditions.

FILE — In this file photo, members of the FLDS church work to build a wall around the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House, Colorado City, Arizona, July 2, 2015 | Photo by Nataly Burdick, St. George News
This file photo for illustration only shows members of the FLDS church working to build a wall around the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House. Colorado City, Arizona, July 2, 2015 | Photo by Nataly Burdick, St. George News

The U.S. Department of Labor said in court documents that Phaze Concrete used teenagers for work on new stores for Wal-Mart in Missouri, Scheels All Sports in Kansas and Hobby Lobby in Nebraska, among other jobs.

Those companies did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Wednesday. A lawyer for Phaze, Blake Hamilton, said Wednesday the company hasn’t yet been served and he couldn’t comment on the allegations.

Federal investigators said they believe Phaze pulled many teenage workers from the group’s home base along the Utah-Arizona border over the decade.

Two teens who grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said in court documents they were pulled out of school to go to work at ages 12 and 14.

The teens said they were paid $200 every two weeks for working 12 hours a day or more, though those payments could be irregular.

Phaze workers were also often told to sign over their paychecks so the money could be used by leaders of the group, prosecutors said in court documents.

U.S. Department of Labor lawyers want a judge to order the company to pay back wages and stop using child labor.

Read More: Judge finds FLDS defendant in contempt of court for child labor law violation

The case filed Tuesday marks the latest move by federal investigators to rein in the secretive group tied to abuses from underage marriage to discrimination against nonmembers.

U.S. Department of Labor lawyers also filed a child labor case against another Utah-based company accused of putting hundreds of children to work for long hours with little food on a pecan farm in 2012. Paragon Contractors denied it, but in June a judge found it had violated the law.

In Arizona, a jury found this spring that the twin polygamous towns on the Utah border violated the constitutional rights of nonbelievers by denying them basic services such as police protection.

Several church leaders have also been charged in Utah with conducting a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme, though leader Lyle Jeffs escaped home confinement in that case and remains on the run.

Written by LINDSAY WHITEHURST, Associated Press

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Utahguns September 3, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Why is it that the FLDS cult keeps compromising their innocent children ?
    It’s all related to abuse, whether sexual, emotional or otherwise.
    How does anyone expect these children to grow up leading full lives?
    Yes, I know it a First Amendment issue, but, stop hiding and committing these atrocities under the freedom of speech badge.
    Simply disgusting…just like Warren Jeffs and his band of male minions.

  • Bob September 3, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    lots of abuses in these plig enclaves. If kids aren’t being raped and molested they’re being used as slave labor. thanks mormons

    • .... September 3, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Oh poor Bob were you abused ? God Bless You Bob

  • Real Life September 3, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Another reason NOT to do business with the sick pedophiles.

  • tcrider September 3, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    all the feds have to do is follow any work truck, especially the landscape contractors from colorado city and they will see that that the underage workers
    do not go to school and work to contribute to those really big houses in colorado city so they can just keep pumping out more work kids.

  • .... September 3, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    I’m sure justice will be served. Praise the Lord

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