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Justice Dept. To Sue Polygamous Towns

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Street preacher Jerry Holt and several of his followers stand in protest to try inform Mormons of the many wives of Mormon founder Joseph Smith.  Smith was married to as many as 33 wives with some being teenagers while others were still married to their first husbands. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Street preacher Jerry Holt and several of his followers stand in protest to try inform Mormons of the many wives of Mormon founder Joseph Smith. Smith was married to as many as 33 wives with some being teenagers while others were still married to their first husbands. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An attorney for local law enforcement in two polygamous towns along the Utah-Arizona border says the U.S. Justice Department plans to sue both communities, claiming religious discrimination.

Lawyer Blake Hamilton tells The Associated Press the Justice Department informed him Thursday of the pending civil rights lawsuit against the towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

Hamilton says the suit claims religious discrimination against non-sect members. Most residents are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, run by the group’s jailed leader Warren Jeffs. He is serving a life sentence in Texas after convictions on child sex and bigamy charges.

The expected lawsuit comes after Legislatures in Utah and Arizona failed to pass bills to abolish the local police department for the communities.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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