ST. GEORGE — The FBI has paid out a $50,000 reward to two people who provided information that led to the arrest of Lyle Jeffs on June 14, ending a nearly year-long search for the fugitive.
The reward money was divided proportionally between the two unnamed tipsters, based on their level of assistance, the FBI said Monday.
Jeffs, 57, believed to be a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was on pretrial release awaiting trial on food stamp fraud charges when he fled from home confinement in Salt Lake City on June 18, 2016.
His run came to an end in June when two men spotted Jeffs pawning tools at a business in Yankton, South Dakota, according to the FBI. One of them spotted Jeffs a second time on June 13 and became suspicious, partly because Jeffs was wearing layers of clothing, a hat and sunglasses indoors.
The tipster thought to note the partial license plate of the silver, late-model Ford F-150 Jeffs was driving. That information was given to law enforcement and triggered an extensive search in the area, the FBI said.
The next day, Yankton Police Lt. Todd Brandt spotted the vehicle at the Lewis and Clark Marina in Yankton while off-duty. Officers subsequently conducted a traffic stop, and the driver admitted to being Lyle Jeffs.
“This case highlights the importance of reporting anything suspicious, no matter how insignificant it may seem,” FBI Salt Lake City Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Brady said. “In this case, the tipsters were observant and acted on instinct. There is no doubt their involvement led to Jeffs’ quick arrest.”
A 10-day trial for Jeffs has been set to begin Sept. 18 before U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart.
Jeffs was indicted in February 2016, along with 10 other FLDS members with conspiracy to defraud the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and conspiracy to launder money.
After his arrest in South Dakota, Jeffs was indicted with an additional count of failure to appear in court.
“The FBI has always relied on cooperation from the public to help capture fugitives and solve crimes,” the FBI said. “Tips, as evident in this case, can be invaluable to our investigations.”
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