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Polygamist Gets 5-Year Sentence

Utah polygamy: Tom Green and his five wives.
A Mormon fundamentalist with five wives and 30 children was sentenced to five years in prison Friday in Utah's biggest polygamy case in nearly 50 years.

Tom Green, 53, also was ordered to pay $78,000 in restitution to the state for welfare payments fraudulently collected by his family.

Judge Guy Burningham sentenced Green to serve five years on each charge he faced — four bigamy charges and one for failing to support his family. The sentences will run concurrently.

Defense attorney John Bucher said he would appeal the restitution order.

Prosecutors learned of Green's polygamist religious beliefs, which he called "original Mormonism," after he and his family made numerous television appearances, including stints on the Sally Jessy Raphael and Queen Latifah shows.

During a weeklong trial, prosecutor David Leavitt attempted to portray Green as a man driven by an outsized ego to marry teen-age girls.

A House Divided
To most Americans, polygamy went out with the covered wagon. But the practice still exists, and in some parts of the West, it thrives. 48 Hours takes a look at this unusual practice and spends time with polygamous families, as well as those who oppose polygamy and say it is harmful.
Bucher argued that Green may not be the most likable man, but that he didn't commit bigamy because he was only legally married to one woman at a time. Green was convicted in May.

He has yet to be tried on one count of child rape, which stems from his 1986 marriage to Linda Kunz. Prosecutors say Kunz was 13 when she conceived a child with Green. She now is pregnant with her seventh child.

Green was in court Thursday to argue that the statute of limitations has run out on the child rape charge and therefore should be dropped. A ruling is pending.

Mormon pioneers brought polygamy to Utah in the 1840s, but 50 years later The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints renounced the practice in a bid to gain statehood for the territory.

Utah's Constitution specifically outlaws plural marriage, but the practice has persisted, particularly among those who say they are following the Mormon church's original scriptures. Polygamists are excommunicated from the church. There are thought to be about 30,000 polygamists in the West today.

Utah's last concerted effort to crack down on polygamy was in 193, when police raided the polygamous enclave of Short Creek, Ariz., on the Utah-Arizona state line.

The move backfired when film of crying children being taken from their mothers made the news. Soon after, most of the group returned to Short Creek — now known as Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah — and took the practice underground.

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