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Lyle Jeffs To Remain In Custody Pending Trial

A polygamist sect leader accused of orchestrating a yearslong, multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud will remain behind bars as he awaits trial, a judge ruled Monday after family and friends testified that he would not flee because he cares too much about the people he leads.

Lyle Jeffs not only defrauded the federal government out of taxpayer funds but deprived needy people of food, U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead said.

Jeffs runs the day-to-day operations for the group, whose leaders have been indicted on allegations of diverting at least $12 million worth of federal benefits.

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They instructed followers to buy items and give them to a church warehouse or use food stamps in sect-owned stores without getting anything in return, prosecutors say.

Before the ruling, Jeffs' sister Mary Musser called him a nurturing, involved father who is admired as a spiritual leader in the polygamist community on the Utah-Arizona border.