Report: Utah owes millions in 'strange' ruling

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 3, 2011, 2:45pm


SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) - A Utah district judge has ordered Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office to pay more than $4 million to an accountant overseeing a polygamous sect's trust.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the $4.6 million is owed to accountant Bruce Wisan's firm, lawyers, an engineering and surveying firm, a public relations firm and others hired for business related to the United Effort Plan Trust.

The trust was once run by polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeffs is currently on trial in Texas for sexually assaulting underage girls.

The Tribune said Wisan alone is owed more than $1 million.

Third District Judge Denise Lindberg, in a ruling filed Monday, said the state is in the best position to cover the debts until the trust can reimburse it the costs.

Shurtleff told the Tribune that his office hasn't decide whether to appeal the "strange and surprising ruling."

"There's no finding of liability and no judgment in the case," the attorney general told the newspaper.

"I think they should be paid. But I think it's amazing that the court has supposedly controlled this fiduciary, and for her to turn around and make us pay is just very shocking to me."

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