By Jennifer Dobner
June 7 (Reuters) - Arizona will funnel more than $400,000 to a sheriff's office on the Utah-Arizona border to beef up police patrols of a town that is home to followers of imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, the state's Attorney General said on Thursday.
The money will aid Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan in providing police services in Colorado City, one of two communities dominated by members of Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The Colorado City Town Marshal's Office currently provides police services for its own community, as well as just across the border in Hildale, Utah. The towns have a combined population of roughly 7,000 residents.
"This action is necessary because of evidence that local police placed their allegiance to Warren Jeffs over their duty to enforce the law objectively, regardless of people's religion," Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said in a statement.
The Attorney General's office alleged that local police have apprehended young women trying to run away from the community and dragged them back, effectively making the women prisoners.
The $420,000 for Mohave County comes in the form of a grant funded by assets forfeited during criminal drug prosecutions in joint state and federal cases.
The grant has been approved by the federal government and will take effect in July after it is formally accepted by Mohave County's board of supervisors, Horne's office said.
Among the officers' alleged offenses were polygamy, refusing to answer questions about Jeffs when the church leader remained a fugitive and failing to enforce orders related to the Utah takeover of a church property trust, authorities have said.
The police department regularly reviews its procedures, Blake Hamilton, a Salt Lake City-based attorney representing the Colorado City Town Marshal's Office, said on Thursday, adding that he is unaware of any recent complaints.
"I think Tom Horne has got sour grapes," Hamilton said. "He tried to pick some low hanging fruit and lost. He tried to clean up the 'problem' of polygamy by going after the marshal's office and he failed."
A spokeswoman for Sheahan said the sheriff was traveling Thursday and not available. But in a statement, the sheriff said he appreciates the resources Horne is providing.
"This funding will allow us to increase our patrol presence in Colorado City and provide unbiased law enforcement services that the citizens do not have with the Town Marshal's Office," the sheriff said in a statement.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been condemned by the mainstream Mormon Church and is accused of promoting marriages between older men and girls.
Warren Jeffs, considered the spiritual leader of the group, was found guilty last year of sexually assaulting two underage girls he had wed. He is in protective custody in a prison in Palestine, Texas, serving a life term plus 20 years.
He still exerts influence over the sect through his brothers, sends out prophetic messages to public officials and has taken out advertisements in newspapers across the country. (Editing by Mary Slosson)
This Dec.1, 2010 file photo provided by the Reagan County (Texas) Sheriff's Department, shows Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints _ a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism that believes polygamy is the key to heaven _ were subject of a SWAT team raid where 439 children were seized from mothers and Jeffs, and 11 other sect members, are facing charges including sexual assault and bigamy. (AP Photo/Regan County Sheriff's Departent, File)
This image provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows a booking photograph of Warren Jeffs after his arrest late Monday. Jeffs, who was on the FBI's Most Wanted List was found with cell phones, laptop computers, wigs and more than $50,000 in cash when he was arrested in Nevada, authorities said Tuesday Aug. 29, 2006.(AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Ross Chatwin, with most of his family, rear, makes a statement at a news conference Friday, Jan. 23, 2004, in Colorado City, Ariz. Ross Chatwin, who was kicked out of the polygamy-practicing Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, broke his silence about the shake-up in the sect's hierarchy, telling reporters that leader Warren Jeffs "has to be stopped before he ruins all of us." (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)
A truck hauling lumber makes it way to a compound being constructed by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints led by Warren Jeffs, near Eldorado, Texas, March 1, 2005. The new complex just north of Eldorado, about 160 miles northwest of San Antonio, includes about a dozen concrete and log apartment buildings plus other structures around the estimated 80-foot tall fortress-like temple shown at the top that is nearing completion. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
This aerial view shows the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints temple under contruction at the religious group's compound near Eldorado, Texas, March 2, 2005. The congregation, known as FLDS, is led by reclusive prophet Warren Jeffs. (AP Photo/Donna McWilliam)
In this Aug. 31, 2006 file photo, polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs appears in a courtroom in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010 Jeff is scheduled to appear in court in Texas for a final pretrial hearing on an aggravated sexual assault charge. The case stems from the 2008 raid of the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas where authorities seized over 400 children. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch, File)
Seth Steed Jeffs of Hildale, Utah, the younger brother of Warren Jeffs, leaves federal court in Denver Friday, July 14, 2006, after being sentenced to three years probation for harboring a fugitive, his brother Warren Jeffs. Warren Jeffs is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
Warren Jeffs watches the alleged victim testify during his trial September 14, 2007 in St. George, Utah. According to reports, the Utah Supreme Court July 27, 2010 has reversed Jeffs' conviction on two counts of first-degree felony rape. The court said that there was error in the jury instructions about lack of consent. (Photo by Douglas C. Pizac-Pool/Getty Images)
In this July 28, 2011 photo, Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs arrives at the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo, Texas. An internal struggle for control of Jeffs' polygamous church could soon be settled by Utah commerce officials. In April, William E. Jessop filed papers with the state ousting Jeffs as president of the corporations that comprise the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 is the deadline set by the Utah Department of Commerce for the sides to provide a resolution, or a court order settling the dispute. Jeffs has led the church since 2002. He's currently on trial in Texas on sexual assault charges. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs gets into a waiting sheriffs vehicle as he leaves the Tom Green County Courthouse Wednesday Aug. 3, 2011, in San Angelo, Texas. Jeffs gave a delayed opening statement about religious persecution Wednesday and dramatically slowed down his trial, where he is defending himself on charges of sexually abusing underage girls. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Brent Jeffs, witness for the prosecution
Prosecution witness Brent Jeffs, right, walks into the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo, Texas, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, for what could be the last day of the trial of polygamist religious leader Warren Jeffs. The jury, who convicted Jeffs on two counts of sexual assault of a child, is set to hear closing arguments in the penalty phase of the trial.
Convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is escorted into the Tom Green County Courthouse, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011, in San Angelo, Texas. The jury in Jeffs' sexual assault trial is set to hear closing arguments in the penalty phase of the trial and could issue up to 119 years in prison.