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Wendell Loy Nielsen, Warren Jeffs' Lieutenant, Found Guilty Of Bigamy

03/28/12 11:27 AM ET AP

Wendell Loy Nielsen
Women of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), of which Wendell Loy Nielsen was both a member and leader. Nielsen has been convicted of bigamy for his marriage to four women.

MIDLAND, Texas -- A West Texas jury has found a former lieutenant to polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs guilty of bigamy.

Prosecutors had accused Wendell Loy Nielsen of unlawfully marrying three women besides his legal wife. His defense attorney had argued that "celestial marriages" weren't a violation of state bigamy laws.

The 71-year-old Nielsen was found guilty of three counts of bigamy.

Nielsen is the former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was one of 12 people indicted after a 2008 raid on the polygamist sect's West Texas ranch.

The San Angelo Standard-Times reports that Nielsen showed no immediate reaction to the verdict.

He faces up to 10 years in prison after rejecting a plea deal last year that would have allowed him to avoid jail.

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Filed by Hilary Tuttle  |