- Associated Press - Thursday, December 22, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Latest on a polygamous leader who pleaded guilty in a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud case (all times local):

12:35 p.m.

A defense attorney for a Utah polygamous leader who pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud says his client got a harsher punishment after another high-profile defendant escaped.

Lawyer Jim Bradshaw said Thursday that the six-month jail term already served by 57-year-old John Wayman didn’t fit the evidence. He was accused of telling followers to pool resources such as food stamp benefits.

Wayman is set to be released after pleading guilty to a felony fraud charge.

Prosecutors say his sermons were part of a scheme to use the benefits to fund polygamous leaders’ lavish lifestyles. Eleven people were charged in the $12 million case, including top leader Lyle Jeffs, who has fled home confinement.

Prosecutor Robert Lund had fought this week to keep Wayman in jail but said circumstances had changed after Wayman’s plea acknowledged his role in the scheme.

___

11 a.m.

A high-ranking polygamous group leader is set to be released from a Utah jail after pleading guilty in a multimillion dollar food-stamp fraud case.

John Wayman agreed to the deal Thursday.

Prosecutors say they’re satisfied with the six months he’s served behind bars since violating his supervised release by meeting with another leader in the middle of the night.

The 57-year-old man is one of 11 people accused of funneling followers’ food stamp benefits into front companies and using them to fund leaders’ lavish lifestyles.

Another high-profile defendant, Lyle Jeffs, remains on the run after escaping home confinement this summer.

Federal prosecutor Robert Lund says the plea is a fair end to one of several cases aimed at reining in the secretive group tied to abuses like underage marriage.


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