51st District Attorney Allison Palmer confirmed Tuesday that the long-rumored deal to lease the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado has been completed. She identified the lessee as a company called ETG Properties.

The details of the lease have yet to be released to the public, but Schleicher County Attorney Clint Griffin says he believes it includes an option to purchase. The Eldorado Success has requested a copy of the lease agreement.

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran, who was tasked by the district attorney with maintaining and providing security for the ranch, acknowledged on Tuesday that he has been released of that responsibility.
“I’m happy to say that I have been relieved of that particular job,” Doran said Tuesday.

The State of Texas seized the 1,691-acre ranch after 11 men were convicted of committing crimes on the property ranging from bigamy to sexual assault of a child. The ranch was established by Warren Steed Jeffs, prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) after he and his followers were accused of similar crimes in the Utah/Arizona community of Short Creek, where the church is headquartered.

For his part, Warren Jeffs was convicted of sexually assaulting two underage girls, ages 12 and 14, both of whom he had taken as polygamous wives. Jeffs was sentenced by a San Angelo jury to life plus 20 years in prison.

The State of Texas filed civil lawsuit to seize the ranch due to its use in ongoing crimes and the fact that it was purchased and maintained with money-laundered funds. No one stepped forward to defend the lawsuit and District Judge Barbara Walther awarded the property to the state in a default judgment.

Since that time, Willie Jessop, one of Warren Jeffs former lieutenants, sued the state in an attempt to claim proceeds from any future sale of the ranch. District Judge Brock Jones ruled against Jessop, but he has since appealed the decision. The appeal was argued before the 13th Court of Appeals on January 31st of this year. A decision from the court is pending.

In the meantime, ETG Properties has leased the ranch for use as a tactical training facility for military and law enforcement agencies. Several training exercises have already been held on the property including one that was held this week with helicopters and tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft coming and going from the property and the Schleicher County airport during the night-time hours.

“You’re probably going to see more of that,”Sheriff Doran said. “It’s a good location for that kind of training.”

Proceeds from the lease are supposed to be divided evenly between the Texas Office of Attorney General, the Texas Rangers, District Attorney Allison Palmer’s office and the Schleicher County Sheriff’s Department.

A sale of the property, ostensibly to ETG Properties, is believed to be in the works, once the 13th Circuit Court rules on Jessop’s appeal. Proceeds from the sale are also supposed to be divided equally among the four agencies.