Officials ponder polygamy issues

Law enforcement officials from Nevada, Utah and Arizona met Wednesday in Las Vegas to discuss polygamy.

Nicole Moon, spokeswoman for the Nevada attorney general’s office, said Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto met Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard to "share information and open up lines of communication about polygamy in all of our states."

The Salt Lake City Tribune said that U.S. attorneys from all three states attended the meeting.

Moon said that she was unaware of any upcoming legal actions regarding polygamy communities in Nevada and that the meeting was held to share information.

"We do know that polygamy is practiced in Nevada. Whether or not it’s criminal is a different story," she said.

The meeting stems from a request by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said local officials needed help to prosecute polygamy sects, Moon said.

In May, Reid sent a letter to Shurtleff and Goddard telling them that U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed a federal prosecutor to work on polygamy issues.

Texas authorities raided a polygamy sect two months ago and took dozens of children and teens living at the sect’s ranch. Child welfare officials alleged that the sect pushed underage children into marriage. The children later were returned to the parents, but authorities said the sect was still under investigation.

In 2006, polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was nabbed by Nevada Highway Patrol troopers north of Las Vegas during a routine traffic stop. Jeffs, who was on the FBI’s most wanted list at the time, was found with $54,000 in cash.

Jeffs was convicted in Utah on charges stemming from the arranged marriages of two teenage girls to older relatives. He is in the custody of Arizona authorities awaiting trial on similar charges.

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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