Colorado City mayor invokes 5th Amendment during trialPosted: Updated:
Justice Department lawyers rested their case late Tuesday afternoon in the discrimination lawsuit against Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.
It was a powerful conclusion.
Under subpoena and flanked by a lawyer, Colorado City Mayor Joseph Allred was the first witness called to the stand Tuesday morning. With the lawyer literally sitting in the witness box beside him, Allred then proceeded to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination over and over and over again as DOJ lawyer Sean Keveney asked if Allred had taken two underage girls as plural brides in ceremonies conducted by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prophet Warren Jeffs.
"At the instruction of counsel," the tall and gangly mayor told the court with what appeared to be a smirk on his face, "I am asserting my rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and respectfully decline to answer."
Allred gave exactly the same response when questioned about allegedly stealing public monies and funneling it to the FLDS Church and allegedly participating in a conspiracy to discriminate against non-FLDS residents of his community.
"I can't think of another city in America that would allow him to continue as mayor after taking the Fifth on questions about the theft of public money," said Tucson attorney William Walker, who has handled several big cases against the FLDS community. "To have a sitting mayor ... refusing to talk about facts of the city is disgusting."
Jurors also heard the mayor take the Fifth when asked about an elaborate secret courier system allegedly set up to communicate with and support Jeffs while he was a fugitive on the run from child sex charges.
"It is hard for me to believe that they [the jurors] would come away with anything other than finding the city liable for everything the Justice Department is asking for," Walker said after listening to the mayor's testimony.
Following Allred, Colorado City resident Jinger Cooke took the stand and told jurors of her family's nearly eight-year-long "nightmare" of harassment and discrimination at the hands her FLDS neighbors.
In 2008, Cooke and her family bought an abandoned home in Colorado City and then spent the next six years fighting with the FLDS-controlled public utilities to get electricity, water and sewer hookup to their home.
Cooke said she believes her family was persecuted because they are not FLDS members.
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