In 1989, she literally took the money and ran to Las Vegas, hiding her savings in the form of small bills in her uncle's home in St George Ut. Her uncle was a polygamist, who belonged to a religious group started by a John Shugart, who just happened to be a former member of the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB). Her uncle introduced her to Shugart, who in turn introduced her to a Daniel Matthews. Matthews attempted to persuade Hill to invest her entire $1.5 million nest egg in a ranch in southern Utah. Hill was told this ranch would be the future home of Shugart's religious group. Hill declined the offer, but she did give Shugart $40,000 to hire a real estate broker to assist him in obtaining the property.
Hill thought that was the end of the matter, and believed her remaining nest egg remained safe in her uncle's home.Unfortunately, that was not to be the case. Although Shugart and Matthews did hire a John Putvin as their real estate broker, Hill's entire $1.54 million cash nest egg mysteriously disappeared - stolen from her uncle's home. And according to Shugart, Hill was not the only person flamboozled.
You see, Matthews was not actually a convert to Shugart's fledgling polygamist group, but rather, was still an active member of the AUB. According to Shugart, instead of Matthews and Putvin using the $1.54 million cash to purchase the ranch, the men put the cash in cans and delivered those cans to Owen Allred, who was, at that time, the leader of the AUB. To add insult to injury, the money was then used to pay off property owned by the AUB, and to purchase a car lot in Salt Lake County and a vehicle among other things.
Because of the convoluted transactions, it took Hill (assisted by former members of the AUB who had knowledge of what happened) until 1994 to discovered what really happened to her money. But by that time, the statute of limitations (four years for fraud) had already run out.
In 1998, 4th District Judge Anthony Schofield dismissed Hill's lawsuit, ruling "I find that Hill did not act reasonably...She was on notice that her money was gone and she knew at least some of the responsible parties. Yet she did nothing for 7 1/2 years." Hill protested that she had no idea what had happened to her money, until she was contacted in 1994 by former AUB members. In 2001, the Utah Supreme Court agreed with Hill, ruling that "...accrual of the cause of action is not complete until discovery of the pertinent facts." In other words, Hill was within the statute of limitations when she filed her lawsuit in 1995 - approximately one year after she finally was able to discover what happened to her money.
In 2003, Hill finally won her lawsuit, and was awarded $1.54 million plus over $1.8 million in interest. Owen Allred was ordered to pay damages of $30,000 to Hill - an amount acknowledging Allred's role in the sordid affair as it represented the $30,000 cash tithing he accepted from and later transferred back to co-defendant Putvin in the form of a cashiers check, as a means to launder Hill's money. Lamoine Jensen (who succeeded Allred as leader of the AUB) was also fined $30,000. The AUB was ordered to pay $250,000. AUB member James Sandmire (who owned the car lot purchased using Hill's money) was found liable for $500,000. Matthews and Putvin were ordered to pay the remaining balance of the judgement.
Another judge, however, felt that Hill had "unclean hands" because she couldn't prove she obtained her $1.54 million legally, and reduced the judgement to her original nest egg of $1.54 million. Hill appealed that decision, and in 2009, the Utah Supreme agreed with her, stating that it didn't matter how she obtained the $1.54 million and that she was entitled to seek more than the $1.54 million she originally lost.
Written by Cynical Jinx