U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart said during a hearing in Salt Lake City that Lyle Jeffs deserved the 57-month prison sentence because his behavior showed he doesn't respect U.S. laws and puts his allegiance to his brother and the sect's imprisoned prophet, Warren Jeffs, above everything else.
Lyle Jeffs, 57, spoke briefly and said he accepted responsibility for his mistakes and that he erred in not properly researching food stamp fraud laws.
"I do, your honor, humbly and respectfully say that I acknowledge my mistakes and decision-making," said Lyle Jeffs, his hands and ankles shackled. "I do humbly accept my responsibly for my actions. I don't blame anyone."
His attorney Kathryn Nester said the scheme wasn't malicious but meant to ensure everyone in the group had food to eat as part of the group's religious beliefs in communal living.
She said Lyle Jeffs has already suffered tremendously because he's been banned from the sect by his brother Warren Jeffs. That means he's lost his family, his job and his faith.
"If you're looking to humble him, I think we're there," Nester said.
Lyle Jeffs was first charged in February 2016 along with 10 other members of the sect in the fraud scheme. Cases against the others ended in plea deals without prison time or dismissed charges.
Lyle Jeffs compounded his legal problems when he became a fugitive after he slipped off an ankle monitoring device in in June of that year while out on supervised release. He was caught in South Dakota a year later after pawn shop workers spotted him and called police.
His brother Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for sexually assaulting girls he considered wives.