GRAND MARAIS, Minn. (AP) — Officials in northern Minnesota have ordered a temporary halt to construction on land linked to a man who led a secretive polygamous sect’s compound in South Dakota.
Cook County officials issued the cease-and-desist order Friday to a company tied to Seth Jeffs. KARE-TV reports the order was issued after officials visited the 40-acre property west of Grand Marais and found apparent wetland violations.
Jeffs is the brother of Warren Jeffs, imprisoned leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Authorities have said Seth Jeffs led the sect’s South Dakota Black Hills compound, a site that has raised concerns among nearby residents.
Seth Jeffs applied in August to build a 5,760-square-foot building on the Minnesota land. The permit was approved in December.
But the recent inspection found that “the disruption to the landscape was pronounced and has occurred outside of all relevant permits,” according to a letter sent to Emerald Industries, LLC by William Lane, planning and zoning administrator for Cook County Land Services.
The letter, addressed to Seth Jeffs, orders him to immediately cease all site activities “until such time that comprehensive erosion and sediment controls are established and site stabilization is demonstrated.”
A man answering a phone number listed on Seth Jeffs’ application for the Minnesota land-use permit hung up on The Associated Press Wednesday.
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 food stamp fraud scheme and for escaping home confinement while awaiting trial. He was caught in South Dakota after pawn shop workers spotted him and called police.
Warren Jeffs, considered by the group to be a prophet who speaks for God, is serving a life sentence for assaulting two of his child brides.
The group, also known as the FLDS, is an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the group’s members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of the mainstream church, widely known as the Mormon church, but the faith abandoned the practice in 1890 and prohibits it today.