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Posted 03 Sep 2001   For week ended August 31, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 27Aug01

By Kent Larsen

Polygamist Green Given Five Years, $78,000 Judgement

PROVO, UTAH -- News that polygamist Tom Green had been given a five-year jail sentence and ordered to pay $78,000 in restitution for fraudulent welfare payments spread worldwide this past weekend. The case had already attracted worldwide attention when Green was prosecuted and then convicted in May and June, and now the news of his sentence was carried on all major international news wires, including the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Agence France Press as well as other local news wires. The news was carried in virtually every news outlet.

The conviction hasn't been without controversy, as Green and his lawyers have alleged that he was being singled out because of his high-profile, which led to appearances in US magazines and on national talk shows like Sally Jesse Raphael and Queen Latifah. And even in the courtroom, Green defended his practice of "original Mormonism," claiming that he was being persecuted for his beliefs.

Prosecutor David Leavitt countered that the prosecution was justified, and that Green's public profile wasn't the reason for the prosecution, it just made that prosecution easier. Leavitt, who an LDS Church member and the brother of Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, is descended from early Mormon polygamists. He receive death threats during the trial, but maintained that he would continue prosecution when the evidence is available, "Whenever someone gives me a provable case of any type, of any kind, I'm going to prosecute it." he said Friday.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, Green was unapologetic for his marriages. Asking all five of his wives and the seven of his children present in the courtroom to stand, Green told the court, "I am not ashamed of these people, and I'm not ashamed of my relationship with them." He also attacked the state for making his prosecution possible, "We are just all very sad that we live in a society where a man can be sent to prison for being a father." In addition to Green, who took the stand for about an hour, all five of his wives took the stand to plead for their husband's return home.

Judge Guy Burningham, also a descendant of Mormon polygamists, told Green when he delivered the sentence that his unapologetic attitude gave him to choice but to assign time in prison, but he gave Green less than the 10 years Leavitt asked for. Instead he sentenced Green to five years in prison and ordered him to pay back $78,000 in welfare benefits that the family had obtained fraudulently over the years.

It remains to be seen whether or not the prison time will change Green's practice of polygamy. After the trial, his wives pledged to stay together while he is in prison. They also will try to avoid going on welfare, continuing to run the family's telemarketing business.

But a Deseret News article before the sentence makes Green's motivation's clearer, and casts doubt on any change of heart. Born in an LDS family June 9, 1948, Green became enamored of Western and Mormon history at an early age. He became fascinated with his great-grandparent's move to Canada to avoid polygamy prosecution.

After serving an LDS mission to Indiana, Green studied history at the University of Utah and there learned that some small groups still practice polygamy. "Finding out that plural marriage existed, that blew me away," Green said. He there learned about an 1886 revelation polygamists claim was given to then-LDS Church President John Taylor in which "God told him, 'I have not revoked this law, nor will I,'" Green says. The discovery led Green to adopt plural marriage and led his first wife, Lynda Penman, to leave him, "It was frightening to her. When I explained to her what I believed, it was a shock to her."

Green was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1980 and Penman divorced him the following year. But it wasn't until 1986 that Green entered his first plural marriage, to mother and daughter Beth Cook and Linda Kunz. Since then he has married five other women, but Cook left him before 1995.

His mother and siblings are still Church members, and disavow Tom Green's lifestyle. "I think he's nuts," says brother Bill Green. "I don't agree with what Tom does -- but he has a right in this country to exercise his freedom of speech." And that freedom is where his mother and family supports him -- they believe Leavitt prosecuted Tom Green because of his outspoken appearances on national television, "I don't mind [Leavitt] going after my brother, only if they go after these other jerks that are doing the same thing," says Bill Green. "This isn't about polygamy, this is about trying to get Tom Green to shut up."

Meanwhile, anti-polygamy activists praised the sentence, and believe that the prosecution is a step forward, showing that it is possible to successfully prosecute polygamy. "I think Tom did us a service. He went to the forefront; he displayed himself," said Rowenna Erickson of the anti-polygamy support group Tapestry of Polygamy. "It gave people an opportunity to research this, and we were able to bring attention to the abuses of polygamy. I feel good about the sentence."

But, in spite of the sentence, the court proceedings aren't over. John Bucher, Green's attorney, says that he will appeal the conviction, and earlier last week filed a motion for a new trial, claiming that the court shouldn't have allowed unrelated evidence to be presented. Leavitt is also not done. He will still prosecute Green on other, more serious charges, child rape charges because he married Linda Kunz and had a child with her when she was 13.


US polygamist gets five years
BBC News 24Aug01 N5

Man gets 5 years in polygamy case
Boston Globe (AP) 25Aug01 N5
By C.G. Wallace: Associated Press

Brazen polygamist gets 5-year jail term
Chicago Tribune 25Aug01 N5

Utah polygamist sentenced to 5 years - August 24, 2001
CNN 24Aug01 N5

Green heads to Utah prison
Deseret News 25Aug01 N5
By Geoffrey Fattah: Deseret News staff writer

Mormon facing five years for polygamy
ITN 25Aug01 N5

Five years jail for Mormon polygamist
London UK Times 25Aug01 N5
From Damian Whitworth in Washington

Flamboyant Polygamist Gets 5 Years
Los Angeles Times 25Aug01 N5
By Julie Cart: Times Staff Writer
Law: Tom Green is sentenced for having five wives as part of his 'fundamentalist Mormonism.'

Man with five wives gets five years for bigamy
Manchester UK Guardian 25Aug01 N5

Mormon fundamentalist gets five years for polygamy
Manila Philippines Daily Inquirer (AFP) 26Aug01 N5
By Gayen Wharton: Agence France-Presse

Utah polygamist sentenced to five years in prison
Melbourne Australia The Age (AAP) 27Aug01 N5
Australian Associated Press

Welfare-Abusing Polygamist Gets Prison (UPI) 24Aug01 N5
United Press International

Utah Polygamist Gets Up to Five Years in Prison
Yahoo! News (Reuters) 24Aug01 N5
By James Nelson

Utah polygamist faces sentencing
CNN 24Aug01 N5

2 men threaten Green's family
Deseret News 25Aug01 N5
By Geoffrey Fattah: Deseret News staff writer

History piqued Green's interest
Deseret News 22Aug01 P5
By Geoffrey Fattah: Deseret News staff writer

Polygamist Green files motion for new trial
Deseret News 22Aug01 N5


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