Water Was Money for Church, Witness Says

     PHOENIX (CN) – The water company serving twin towns dominated by a fundamentalist Mormon sect funneled profits to church entities, a consultant testified Monday in the federal government’s lawsuit against Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.
     The Department of Justice sued the border towns of Hildale and Colorado City in 2012, claiming the communities largely made up of members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints denied non-church members access to water, utilities and police protection. The jury trial began in January and is expected to last until the end of February. The leader of the sect, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two underage girls.
     Jethro Barlow, a consultant for a court-appointed fiduciary managing the assets of an FLDS trust, told the jury Monday that profits held by the Twin City Water Works – the only water utility in the two towns – were used to pay personal expenses for church members and diverted to the church’s storehouse.
     Barlow is a consultant for the United Effort Plan Trust, which Utah took over from the church in 2005 after Warren Jeffs was accused of sexual assault. He called the 12- and 15-year-old girls his “spiritual wives.”
     Barlow said $145,103 was funneled by checks from Twin City Water Works to the storehouse, where church members can get food and medication. Water customers in the two towns pay water bills to the cities, which then pay Twin City Water Works.
     “Over $40,000 in checks were written out to cash,” Barlow added.
     In a 2006 letter to Jeffs, then-Twin City Water Works President Joseph Allred wrote that the utility company paid for phone bills, car payments and auto insurance of church members. Allred is now the mayor of Colorado City.
     The trust sued Twin City Water Works in March last year, claiming it served as a slush fund for the FLDS by diverting $1.7 million from the utility company.
     The jury also heard more testimony from Guy Timpson, a former church and Colorado City Utility Board member.
     Timpson testified on Thursday that while Colorado City and Hildale quit issuing new water connections under their 2010 water ordinances, they continued to connect water hookups for church projects.
     Jeff Matura, an attorney for Colorado City, tried to poke holes in Timpson’s claims, saying the ordinances provided exceptions for applicants who could supply their own water into the towns’ water system, if it met environmental requirements.
     Matura showed the jury a number of letters documenting efforts by the Twin City Improvement Association, a church entity, to receive water hookups for multiple construction projects.
     In the letters, the Twin City Improvement Association said it would grant irrigation water rights to the Twin City Water Works to comply with water ordinances in Colorado City and Hildale.
     The trial continues this week.

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