Tuesday, August 16, 2016

FLDS Fraud Defendant Says 1st Amendment Protects His Letters To Jailed Leader

As previously reported, in February eleven members of the polygamous FLDS Church were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Now, as reported by Fox13 News, one of those defendants, Preston Barlow, is objecting to a change in the conditions of his pretrial release.  Earlier this month after he was incorrectly charged with violating conditions of his release, the limits on his contacting co-defendants were expanded to include a ban on any contact with FLDS leader Warren Jeffs who is in prison on other charges. In a motion (full text) filed with the Utah federal district court yesterday, Barlow argued that there is no basis for the expansion, and that it violates his religious freedom rights, saying:
The tenets of Mr. Barlow's sincerely held religious beliefs require him to maintain a conduit of connection and communication with his prophet. He does so by writing to Warren Jeffs approximately one time per month. The writings do not generate a direct response from Warren Jeffs.... [R]estricting the communication would have a devastating impact on Mr. Barlow's religious practice, and on his ability to maintain such religious practice consistent with what  he believes are the necessary requirements for eternal salvation.