Joe Friedrichs

Seth Jeffs back in the news after South Dakota compound foreclosure

The man who purchased property on Pike Lake Road in Cook County in 2018 and was involved with a compound in South Dakota’s Black Hills is back in the news after land held by a secretive polygamous sect is for sale as the group defaulted on a $1.6 million loan.

Court documents show the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ property near Pringle in Custer County is in foreclosure, KELO-TV reported.

The 140-acre property includes nine parcels of land. It will be sold as one during an auction Feb. 25 at the Custer County Courthouse, said Sheriff Marty Mechaley. The compound sits along a gravel road and is shielded from view by tall pine trees, a privacy fence and a guard tower.

The FLDS is an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism whose members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the faith abandoned the practice in 1890 and prohibits it today.

Seth Jeffs, who authorities have said led the FLDS compound in South Dakota, is the brother of Warren Jeffs, who is considered by the group to be a prophet who speaks for God. Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered to be his brides.

In recent years, the group has lost hundreds of members and control of the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, amid a major leadership void started by Warren Jeffs’ imprisonment.

Seth Jeffs took a plea deal in a multimillion-dollar food-stamp fraud case in 2016. His brother Lyle Jeffs was sentenced in 2017 to prison for his role in carrying out the scheme.

Seth Jeffs purchased 40 acres of property in Cook County in August 2018 near Pike Lake Road. The property at 932 Pike Lake Road was purchased by Jeffs under the business name Emerald Industries, LLC.

A land use permit was approved in December 2018 for this property. The permit includes a driveway that is approximately 900 ft. in length and an approximately 6,000 sq. ft. building to be put on the property, according to the Cook County Land Services Department. Permits to build have since expired.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs contributed to this report.