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Utah polygamist sentenced to 5 years

PROVO, Utah (CNN) -- A Utah man who lived with his five wives and 30 children was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for bigamy and failure to pay child support charges.

Tom Green, 52, was convicted in May in the first high-profile bigamy case in half a century.

Judge Guy Burningham sentenced Green to five years for each of the four counts of bigamy and one charge of failure to pay child support, but those terms will be served concurrently.

The judge also ordered Green to pay $78,000 in restitution to the state.

The self-professed "fundamentalist" Mormon could have faced up to 25 years in prison and prosecutor David Leavitt had asked for a 10-year sentence.

"Prison was the appropriate recommendation. We have a man who refuses to abide by society's laws," Leavitt said. "A man who marries 14-year-old girls and asks the government to support his children.


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Green's five wives and seven of his children were in court for Friday's sentencing. Three of the wives are pregnant. After the sentencing, Green was taken to the Utah County Jail until he is transferred to prison.

"He wasn't allowed to talk to us or say good-bye to us. He just blew us a kiss goodbye," Linda Green said.

"I really feel that what happened today was very wrong. We are a family. Tommy loves us very much and we love him. I think that the state should have never been put in a position to do this to us, because the law should not be there we should have the right to live this way," his wife Leann Green said.

During the trial, Green ignored a judge's warnings by going on national television to defend his lifestyle, which was common Mormon practice until the mid-19th century.

Polygamy's legacy in Utah dates back to the 1840s, when members of the Church of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon church is formally known, first settled in the state.

But the practice never gained wider currency outside the Church. By 1890, the Church banned the taking of multiple wives, with the penalty for offenders being excommunication. Utah's constitution formally outlawed polygamy as a condition of statehood.

But despite the ban, polygamy never died out in Utah. An estimated 30,000 polygamists, most of them in Utah, live in the American West, according to The Associated Press.

For this reason, Green maintained that he was being unfairly singled out for perpetuating a practice that was once a cornerstone of Church theology.

Green also faces first-degree child rape charges in a case involving a woman who later became one of his wives. He appeared in court Thursday for an evidentiary hearing.

Prosecutors allege that green had sex with her when she was 13-years-old.

The charge carries a possible sentence of six years to life in prison.


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