Polygamist group might be on the lookout for more land
Mar 22, 2019 06:23AM
Seth S. Jeffs being served by an attorney in the Twin Cities earlier in 2019. Photo: KARE
By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - March 22, 2019
Bill Rosso had a suspicious feeling when he received a request from a Twin Cities realtor asking him if he wanted to sell his land located on the Pike Lake Road.
Presented on a small blue piece of paper, the note said, “Hello, I have a client who is very interested in purchasing your property on 877 Pike Lake Road in Grand Marais. Would you consider selling? Please give me a call or text me.”
Because his property isn’t for sale, Rosso was very concerned with the offer. Especially, he said, because just down the road from him, Seth Jeffs, the brother of the infamous polygamist Warren Steed Jeffs, the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church), had purchased 40 acres of land in the county with the intention of building a 5,760-square-foot pole barn complete with living quarters.
The note to Rosso came from Shelby Tolley, a realtor with TheMLSOnline based in Champlin, Minnesota.
“When I talked with her (Shelby Tolley) and asked her specifically if her client had any connection with Seth Jeffs or his church she went silent. I asked her if she knew about him buying property in Cook County and the stories about him. She said she did. I suggested she be careful about who she represents,” Rosso said.
When he contacted his neighbors Rosso found others had received similar letters from Tolley asking them if they too wanted to sell their property.
“It’s a very scary situation. If anyone around us starts selling property it will turn into a house of cards. I thought it would be best if we could get the word out and warn people,” stated Rosso.
In a Thursday morning, March 21 phone call Shelby Tolley responded to some questions from the Cook County News-Herald. Shelby said her client wasn’t Seth Jeffs, nor the LLC he purchased the Pike Lake property through.
“I have received several calls about this. I know about Seth Jeffs. I can say my client isn’t him,” she said.
However, Tolley confirmed that she didn’t know if her client had any connection to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.
Seth Jeffs, who is in his mid 40s, is one of Warren’s seven brothers. He is the reputed leader of an FLDS sect in the South Dakota Black Hills near a town called Pringle. He purchased the Pike Lake 40-acre parcel as the registered agent of Emerald Industries LLC for $88,000. The LLC is registered at Seth’s Eden Prairie address and at an address in Helena, Montana.
Since December 2018, an attorney from Salt Lake City, Utah, Alan Mortensen, had been looking for Seth after Seth had defaulted on a lawsuit alleging Seth had watched and helped arrange for his brother Warren to perform ritual sexual child abuse on underage girls and had done nothing to stop the abuse.
Mortensen is the attorney for a young woman identified in court papers as “R. H.” who filed a complaint against defendants Warren S. Jeffs, Lyle Jeffs, Seth Jeffs, Wendell LeRoy Nielsen, and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, stating that as part of a FLDS religious ritual she was sexually abused by Warren Jeffs “on a regular basis, between five and six times a week, from the age of 8 years old until she turned 14.”
In the court documents, R.H. asked that her name and location of where she lived not be made known.
When contacted in January 2019, Mortensen said Seth was also wanted for court-appointed unpaid child support and unpaid alimony. Seth was also convicted in 2006 of harboring or concealing his brother Warren and in 2016 he pleaded guilty to food stamp fraud.
Mortenson didn’t return the Cook County News-Herald’s calls or emails. His client, referred to as R.H., could potentially put a lien on the Pike Lake property owned by Jeff’s Emerald Industries LLC. But as of March 19, no such lien could be found registered in the county recorder’s office.