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Cook County issues construction cease and desist to cult leader

Seth Jeffs has received building permits for land west of Grand Marais.
Seth Jeffs

Officials have demanded that the former leader of a polygamist cult ceases construction on a large property in Cook County, Minnesota.

Concerns have been growing about the intentions of Seth Jeffs, the brother of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) founder Warren Jeffs, after he bought the land in January.

Applications for building permits had been approved, with the former FLDS leader and convict applying for a 900-ft driveway and a 6,000 square foot building at Pike Lake, west of Grand Marais.

But in a letter dated May 24 sent to BMTN, Cook County Land Services issued a cease and desist, citing a series of violations associated with the construction.

This includes violations of pollution, stormwater, erosion, and wetland ordinances, among others.

"Moving forward, you must IMMEDIATELY CEASE AND DESIST ALL SITE ACTIVITIES until such time that comprehensive erosion and sediment controls are established and site stabilization is demonstrated," the letter says.

"These are serious matters, even more so given the emphasis Cook County places on the conservation [of] our wetland resources," it adds. "Nevertheless, permit compliance remains the responsibility of the property owner and we will expect impacts to be repaired in a timely manner."

The county says it would be happy to consult with Jeffs on future plans for the property, but this consultation must happen before any further construction takes place.

Earlier this month, two public meetings were held in Grand Marais that saw two experts on the FLDS cult talk about what they've learned about the Jeffs family.

More about the FLDS

Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for sexually assaulting two girls, aged 12 and 15, that he'd taken on as his wives.

His church, known as FLDS, broke off from mainstream Mormonism in 1898 to continue practicing polygamy. Critics of the church say the sect also forces underage females into marriages with older men — practices that led to the downfall of Jeffs and increased scrutiny of his group.

As for Seth Jeffs, he himself has a history of legal troubles, much of it related to FLDS.

As Patheos notes, he's being sued for allegedly participating in the church's ritual sex abuse, and is said to be in hiding from that lawsuit.

He was also tried over a food stamp abuse scheme that authorities said benefited FLDS.

Since then, he has reportedly been leading a chapter of the church on a compound in South Dakota

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